West Suffolk councils secure additional accommodation to support homeless

A night shelter was set up in Bury to help homeless people during the winter months. It closes tomor

A night shelter was set up in Bury to help homeless people during the winter months. It closes tomorrow. Picture: EMMA BRENNAN - Credit: Archant

Additional temporary accommodation to support people who are homeless in west Suffolk has been secured by the council and new outreach workers have also been taken on.

West Suffolk councils has invested £45,000 to gain the use of a 12-bedroom hostel and flats owned by the Home Group in Bury St Edmunds.

The investment, initially for one year, brings the number of temporary beds available in Bury St Edmunds to just over 40 and 70 across the whole of west Suffolk.

Temporary accommodation is used by the councils to help support people who are homeless, and last year the councils helped assist and prevent more than 500 households from becoming homeless.

The availability of temporary accommodation has been under pressure due to an increase in the number of people presenting themselves to the councils as homeless.

That demand for temporary accommodation is expected to continue even after the Homelessness Reduction Act comes into effect from April 3.

Councils will continue to have a duty to prevent and relieve homelessness but on the prevention side, this will be expanded to include everyone, rather than being based on priority need and intentionality.

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As part of the act, tailored support will be developed in the form of a personal housing plan.

This will look at the issues behind why someone is at risk of becoming homeless, the support that will be offered and will also agree the expectations on the individual’s behaviour and actions.

Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member for housing at west Suffolk councils, said: “Placing anyone, particularly families in temporary housing is never ideal but it is sometimes necessary.

“The new legislation is a positive move but it is not without its challenges.

“West Suffolk councils will be looking for more opportunities to boost the amount of temporary accommodation that it can access, while we are also calling for private landlords to get in touch to discuss how the council can support them to provide accommodation for those who need it.”

Two new outreach workers, one of whom will specialise in drugs and alcohol support, have also been appointed by the councils.

The two new appointments follow investment by both west Suffolk councils and funds secured from Suffolk County Council Public Health.

The winter night shelter, which operated in partnership with Havebury Housing Partnership, at Northgate Lodge in Bury St Edmunds will close at the end of March.