Council could buy five properties for rough sleepers with complex needs

Ten homeless people died in Great Yarmouth between 2013 and 2017. Picture: bodnarchuk

The properties will be available to rough sleepers with complex or multiple needs in the borough - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Rough sleepers with complex needs in the Great Yarmouth area could benefit from the use of five properties which the borough council is looking to buy and renovate.

At a Thursday meeting of the council’s housing and neighbourhoods committee, housing director Nicola Turner said: “The Covid pandemic highlighted the scale of rough sleeping and the number of individuals in insecure housing at risk of rough sleeping across the borough.”

A strategy adopted by the council had aimed to respond to that need, but Ms Turner said it had become “increasingly clear that there’s actually a gap in the level of service and provision available to rough sleepers with complex or multiple needs.” 

To fill the gap, Ms Turner said, five properties will be bought on the open market, with repairs carried out where needed.

A “basic level of furniture” will be provided and rough sleepers will be accommodated for up to two years.

The scheme will aim to help rough sleepers address their barriers to maintaining a tenancy, Ms Turner said.

In addition, a dedicated support worker will work with residents. 

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Some £655,475 will be needed to buy the properties - £314,628 of which the council hopes to receive from a government grant, with the remaining £340,847 covered by borrowing.

Great Yarmouth Town Hall.Photo: Andy Darnell

The plans were discussed in Great Yarmouth Town Hall by the housing and neighbourhoods committee of Great Yarmouth Borough Council. - Credit: Archant © 2011

The cost of borrowing will be made back by a weekly rent of £105, which will include service charges.

As of Monday, September 20, the council had identified 14 rough sleepers across the borough. 

A separate scheme to house homeless people with less complex needs is also proceeding, Ms Turner said.

UKIP councillor Carrie Talbot asked whether the council could look into providing ‘wet houses’ - places in which residents addicted to alcohol and drugs are allowed to continue taking their substances, while they receive support. 

“Addiction isn’t always a choice, it is an illness and there are people who do need help to combat that, and getting them into housing and off the streets, so they’ve got a better situation where they’re able to do that. If we’re not providing that, I really feel that we should be,” said Ms Talbot. 

Ms Turner said the council was considering the implications of providing wet houses. 

The committee unanimously recommended the plans, which will go before full council next week.