THE Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) announced in May 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 a further fund of £105million to enable local authorities to best support the nearly 15,000 people placed into emergency accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic would be available.
Dorset Council worked 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.
Dorset Council is now pleased to announce that it has successfully secured a grant of £624,000 as part of the Next Steps Accommodation Programme.
Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, portfolio holder for housing 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.
“Although we are still awaiting formal notice of how the money is to be spent, this additional funding will help us to create accommodation to provide much-needed affordable housing for single people, who by and large, make up the majority of homeless households in the county.
“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.”
The council has a statutory duty to provide emergency and temporary accommodation, and during the COVID-19 lockdown saw an unprecedented demand on its housing services as it supported rough sleepers and homeless households.
It is currently overly reliant on B&B placements, particularly in coastal towns where there is more availability. This is 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, and the grant fund will help to overcome some of these challenges.