Help for the Homeless

Changes to temporary accommodation to increase facilities



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Councillors last night (Tuesday, 15 October) agreed a series of measures to tackle the growing number of homeless families living in temporary and bed and breakfast accommodation.

The council was asked to help an unprecedented 638 families who had been made homeless last year.

Due to a lack of suitable housing, more and more people are being housed in temporary and bed & breakfast accommodation to make sure they have a roof over their heads.

Cllr Steve Curran, cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration at the council, said:

“There are currently 1,120 families living in temporary accommodation, and the numbers staying in bed and breakfast accommodation has risen by 94 per cent in a year.

“These unprecedented numbers are down to the negative impact of the Government’s welfare reforms, and the increasing costs of renting privately as landlords cash in on demand for housing from those who can’t afford to buy their own home.

“B&B’s are not ideal, and we only use them when we have no other choice, so we are taking a range of steps to tackle the problem and help families into more appropriate housing.”

To help address the problem, the council has agreed a number of responses:

· Giving priority for social housing to those in bed and breakfast accommodation for significantly longer than six weeks

· Using self contained annexes/flats on a nightly basis

· Target households currently settled in temporary accommodation to move on into the private or social renting sector to free up accommodation for people in B&B

· Reducing the cost of B&B accommodation by leasing existing properties.

As well as these, the council hopes to provide up to 251 new units of temporary accommodation from empty properties, converting commercial units and building new temporary accommodation.

Possible sites for these schemes include empty properties on Holloway Street in Hounslow, 202 High Street Brentford and Fountains Close, Feltham.

202 High Street contains two 4 bedroom flats, which are Council owned and part of the Brentford High Street Regeneration Programme. It is proposed that these 2 flats are used for short-term temporary accommodation pending the commencement of the regeneration plans. The cost to bring these properties into use would be £75k per unit meaning a payback period of approximately 4 years including savings from B&B accommodation. Should the need arise to vacate these flats earlier, temporary accommodation households will be moved on with immediate affect...Each unit will cost £75k to refurbish, so total outlay would be £150k. Against this we project annual income £44, 604, which comprises of B&B savings of £32,956 (rental £490/week for a 4 bed-house in B&B, less £173/week LHA) plus rental income of £11,648. This would generate a net annual savings of around £7,100.

The full report on the proposals is available at the council website, item 7..

October 17, 2013

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