Council delivering on pledge to reduce homelessness

£4 million project agreed by the council’s Cabinet last year

Date issued: 15 August 2019

More than 50 homeless households have been found temporary or permanent homes so far as part of Colchester Borough Council’s commitment to reduce homelessness across the borough.

Under a £4 million project agreed by the council’s Cabinet last year, the authority has bought 16 former council homes on the open market that had previously been sold under Right to Buy. It has also bought a further seven offered back to the council under the Right to Buy Back legislation, to help provide homes to some of those on the council’s waiting lists.

This has meant the council has helped an additional 23 households – including families with children – find good quality affordable accommodation. Over the last year the council has:

  • purchased 16 homes to be used for temporary accommodation for homeless families. These homes were a mix of three-bed houses and two-bed flats –previously sold under the Right to Buy scheme. They ensure people have good quality, self-contained temporary accommodation until a permanent home becomes available.
  • bought seven former council homes to be used for permanent housing. These permanent homes will provide a good base for these families to start rebuilding their lives.

The money to deliver the project has come from a mix of funding from the council’s budget, Right to Buy receipts and New Homes Bonus funding. The homes are being managed by the Council’s wholly owned arm’s length management company Colchester Borough Homes (CBH).

It has also secured 28 additional homes in the borough’s private rented sector through a two-year pilot scheme offering landlords incentives to make their properties available for those who are threatened with homelessness or are homeless. Run by Colchester Borough Homes (CBH), the Homestep scheme includes providing advance rent payments, damage deposits along with support for tenants and landlords.

This success has helped set the foundations for the council’s ambitious plans outlined earlier this to deliver up to 350 new affordable homes across the borough over the next five years.

Delivering these ambitious plans include:

  • Colchester Amphora Homes Ltd (the council’s wholly-owned housing company) delivering over 100 new affordable homes as part of mixed-tenure developments across sites at Creffield Road, Mill Road and St Runwald Street;
  • building around 30 new affordable homes on former garage sites – expanding on the 34 affordable homes delivered on former garage sites in 2014;
  • looking at alternative ways of delivering social housing – including potentially creating purpose-built flats that would create an addition floor on suitable existing blocks of flats using modular constructed properties
  • redeveloping the sheltered housing at Elfreda House to provide modern “fit for purpose” accommodation
  • purchasing more former council homes back through the Right to Buy legislation and on the open market.

Councillor Adam Fox, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “We have been held back for years from delivering much needed affordable housing for our residents. But now we are driving forward with our ambitious commitment to deliver up to 350 affordable new homes in the borough over the next five years.

“We have so far managed to provide more than 50 households – including families with children – a home and a more stable and brighter future.

“This is just the start. We are committed to delivering more good quality affordable homes our residents need and deserve which will also help continue to create a Better Colchester.”

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