Date issued: 26 September 2018
Progress is being made on a raft of additional measures to tackle homelessness in Colchester.
Last January, Cabinet members agreed to fund the purchase of 16 properties for use as temporary accommodation while continuing the purchase of former council properties under the ‘right of first refusal’ legislation for use as permanent council housing.
To date, four properties for temporary accommodation have been acquired for households who are homeless and requiring temporary accommodation – with the remainder due to be purchased by the end of 2018.
The purchase of up to 10 properties for permanent accommodation is also in progress. In total, the council has bought back five properties to be let at social rents, with a further four homes offered to the council under the ‘right to buy back’ in the process of being purchased. These homes are being let under a local letting policy to homeless families through the council’s Gateway to Homechoice choice-based lettings system.
Funding for additional housing, approved by Full Council in February, involves the investment of Right to Buy Receipts and up to £1m of Affordable Housing New Homes Bonus income to pay for the purchase costs of the 16 properties for temporary accommodation, up to a value of £2.9m.
The purchase of 10 permanent homes, which will be owned by the council, let at social rents and managed by Colchester Borough Homes (CBH), will be funded by Right to Buy receipts (30%) and Affordable Housing Commuted Sums (70%).
Additional proposals to tackle homelessness in the borough also making headway, include:
- Changes to the way the Allocations Policy is implemented – with CBH working with registered providers to ensure homeless households do not spend unnecessarily long periods of time in temporary accommodation, and
- A two-year pilot scheme, entitled ‘Home Step’, offering new incentives to private landlords to increase the supply of private sector rented accommodation and assess the value-for-money of these incentives (funded through £100,000 of New Homes Bonus income and £150,000 from the Government’s Flexible Homelessness Support Grant).
Councillor Tina Bourne, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities, said: “I am delighted both with the pace and level of progress made since February to deliver on our pledge to help tackle homelessness in the borough.
“This investment is about using every resource and creative solution at our disposal, and also in a cost-effective way, to tackle homelessness and help make a better Colchester where everyone has a place to call home.
“This is a huge investment, but absolutely the right investment, by this council. While it may not be the whole solution, these measures provide a valuable set of additional tools to help us deal with rising housing demand in the borough.”