Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategy 2024 - 2029
5. Theme Two: Supply of Accommodation
5.1 Homelessness is exacerbated by limited access to suitable, settled accommodation. We need to create more affordable housing options that are available before people are in crisis and to meet the need for temporary accommodation where this is required.
5.2 We need to reduce the number of households living with the insecurity of being at risk of homelessness, homeless and roofless, or in temporary accommodation, and instead provide options so that people can move in a planned way into accommodation that is suitable and available to them long-term.
5.3 Preventing homelessness and ensuring that when it does occur the journey for those affected is brief and non-recurrent relies on both helping as many people as possible to remain in their own homes, but also helping those who can't do so to access accommodation across all tenures. For those who have both a housing need and support needs too, they need an effective pathway to receive the support from other agencies and services, to achieve the end goal of homelessness never occurring again.
5.4 The needs of homeless people form part of the overall housing needs of the Borough. The level of Borough-wide need, the dwelling types required and the tenures that will best meet those needs up to 2040 were identified in the Local Housing Needs Assessment, which forms part of the evidence base for our Local Plan 2040.
5.5 The Housing Strategy 2021 – 2026 sets out the Council's approach to supporting the delivery of new housing, including the delivery of new affordable and supported housing. The Review (section 7.4) highlights the need for the Council and its partner organisations to continue to work together to maximise the supply of available housing in the Borough across all types and tenures.
5.6 The provision of housing, particularly affordable housing, is essential in helping to minimise homelessness. The Council's Housing Strategy Team works closely with the planning system, developers, RP's and Homes England to secure the delivery of new housing in the Borough. This partnership approach has facilitated the successful delivery of general needs affordable housing for rent, purchase and specialist supported housing.
5.7 Qualifying sites (those of ten dwellings or more) allocated for housing in Local Plan 2030 (Policy 58S) and the emerging Local Plan 2040 (Policy DM1S) are required to deliver 30% affordable housing, of which 78% should be for affordable or social rent. These properties are allocated in accordance with the Allocation Scheme and are available to meet the housing needs of those on our Housing Register, including those who are homeless.
5.8 In addition, we will work with RP partners to bring forward sites that deliver more than the 30% planning policy requirement for affordable housing. Opportunities include small sites already owned by RPs, sites purchased by RPs for 100% affordable housing schemes and, potentially, sites owned by the Council where, as landowner, we might require higher percentages of affordable housing.
Private Sector Housing
5.9 In recent years, increasing market rents have risen significantly above Local Housing Allowance rates putting them out of reach for those claiming benefits affecting the supply of private rented sector (PRS) properties available to low-income households and more recently led to people who are working and earning higher incomes being unable to afford to rent privately.
5.10 We have seen a significant decrease in the number of private sector properties being used to prevent and relieve homelessness due to landlords choosing to sell and at the same time the ending of private sector tenancies is one of the biggest causes of homelessness.
5.11 We need to complete a review of the Council's landlord incentive schemes to ensure they align to the current private sector market and give landlords confidence to let their properties to any tenants that we might put forward. We need to make sure a landlord offer is attractive, competitive but is also value for money in helping the Council meet the demand for accommodation. We will therefore re-introduce the previously successful partnerships and local forums for private sector landlords and owners of empty homes.
5.12 The Housing Strategy 2021 – 2026 sets out the Council's approach to supporting the delivery of new housing, including settled supported housing, places people can call home, for specific vulnerable groups. Specific actions to increase the supply of accommodation that is let with support to meet the needs of single people who are threatened with homelessness or already homeless is delegated to this Strategy.
5.13 There is no statutory duty to provide supported accommodation and as a result careful review of funding allocations is necessary to ensure that commissioning is targeted at provisions that support our wider statutory agenda to prevent and relieve homelessness and deliver value for money.
5.14 It is essential that we maintain partnerships with providers of supported housing to ensure that information and needs' data is shared and fed into a continuous review of services provided. This will ensure that they are shaped to meet local needs for preventing homelessness and supporting an effective supply of housing for people who are homeless.
5.15 There is a need to improve the allocation of supported housing units to ensure a fair system is operated across all providers, both commissioned and as many non-commissioned ones as we can to ensure offers of accommodation support the delivery of this Strategy.
5.16 In addition to approved allocation process, we also need to review and refresh pre-eviction and planned move protocols to reduce the number of people needing to approach the council for housing assistance because they are threatened with becoming homelessness from supported accommodation.
5.17 Furthermore, there is a need to increase move-on provision and floating support models, and to further develop models for addressing the multiple and complex needs of homeless people with substance misuse and/or mental health problems.
5.18 In addition to homelessness prevention underpinning the Vision of the Strategy, the current unprecedented numbers of households residing in temporary accommodation (TA) must drive priority action to reduce its use. The more the council spends on crisis and the use of TA, the less there is for work on prevention.
5.19 We will examine our processes, models of best practice, frameworks, and the effect of other actions in this Strategy to reduce the use of temporary accommodation and ensure a supply of suitable accommodation that can be managed and maintained to support homeless households through their journey from crisis to finding long-term rehousing quickly and smoothly.
5.20 Our on-going property acquisition programme should consider our ambition to re-focus on prevention, reduce the high numbers of households in temporary accommodation, reduce the significant cost to the Council of nightly let and hotel type provision and improve the conditions for individuals and families who require temporary accommodation.
5.21 It is important that the provision of temporary accommodation is affordable to the Council and is financially sustainable. Therefore, we will normally only provide temporary accommodation where we have a statutory duty to do so. Where we do not have a duty we will work together with partners to identify and implement opportunities to provide shelter for homeless people that are not entitled to temporary accommodation where the law allows.
5.22 We will seek Government funding, both capital and revenue funding, when opportunities arise and there is a robust and sustainable business case for use of the funding.
In relation to Supply of Accommodation we will;
- Review existing offers to private sector landlords and launch new proactive and innovative approaches to accessing Private Rented Sector properties for preventing and relieving homelessness.
- By implementing the Housing Strategy 2021 – 2026 and supporting the delivery of sites allocated for housing in our Local Plan(s), continue to maximise the delivery of affordable housing and supported housing. As a minimum, we must meet the figure determined in the current Local Housing Needs Assessment or its successor documents.
- Work with Providers on schemes on local authority owned land
- Continue to work to reduce the number of long-term empty homes in the Borough by implementing the Empty Homes Strategy 2019 – 2024.
- Progress the acquisition of residential properties for use as temporary accommodation in order to reduce cost and improve control over the quality and location of properties.
- Deliver a programme of residential properties for refugees.
- Review, explore opportunities and develop new accommodation options, with bespoke support, specifically for people who have been or are at significant risk of rough sleeping based on our Rough Sleeper Accommodation Programme-funded 'Rogers Court' model.
- Complete the review of supported housing and implement a commissioning programme which meets the aims of this strategy.
- Establish closer partnership working with local RPs to promote improved access to affordable and supported housing for single homeless people including people recovering from rough sleeping.
- Review the Housing Allocations Scheme to ensure it balances the housing needs of people that are at risk of homelessness to effectively support the overarching aim of preventing homelessness, with the housing needs of other applicants.