DORSET Council has submitted a £1.2million bid to support housing for homeless people in the county.
In May the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) announced that £161million would be made available in 2020/21 for 3,300 homes for rough sleepers in the next 12 months.
A month later, it was announced that further funding of £105million would be available to enable local authorities to best support the nearly 15,000 people placed into emergency accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dorset Council has been working with colleagues from MHCLG and Homes England to co-produce a bid based on current and future need of accommodation in the county.
In addition, a number of partners from Public Health, Dorset HealthCare, and homelessness support charities including Julian House, Lantern Trust, Bus Shelter and Shelter, Probation Services, Registered Housing Providers and REACH drug and alcohol support services have all contributed to the production of the bid of £1.2million.
The Next Steps Accommodation Programme criteria includes bidding for funding to create accommodation made up of single units, in order to provide much-needed affordable housing for single people, who by and large, make up the majority of homeless households in the county.
The council has a statutory duty to provide emergency and temporary accommodation and is currently overly reliant on B&B placements due to the lack of property under its ownership and control.
Despite many years of effort there is simply not enough accommodation to meet the current level of need.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government requirement to accommodate rough sleepers, additional grant funding from MHCLG has been made available to provide long-term accommodation solutions and ease the pressure on B&Bs.
Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, portfolio holder for Housing and Community Safety at Dorset Council, said: “Since well before COVID-19 we have been wrestling with the dilemma of insufficient property, and how we can keep people out of B&Bs and get them into settled accommodation.
“Many homeless households in Dorset are currently in B&B accommodation, primarily in coastal resorts due to the availability of rooms.
“As the repercussions of COVID-19 continue, more people are finding themselves in financial difficulty and are presenting to Dorset Council as homeless.
“The safety and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority. Wherever possible, we try to house residents in a community where they have local connections.
Currently this isn’t always possible, so we work with them to find other suitable accommodation. Going forward, we hope to establish more suitable housing right across the Dorset Council area to meet people’s needs.”
Dorset Council’s Cabinet will consider a report in support of this bid at their meeting on September 8. The report can be found on the Dorset Council website.