Durham council to consider buying empty properties for homeless people

A council in the North East is considering buying 10 empty properties in County Durham as part of a pilot project to help people facing homelessness.

Next week, County Durham Council’s cabinet will decide whether to approve a capital request for £500,000 to buy and refurbish the properties. If approved, these properties would remain council assets and would be leased to organisations that specialise in helping people affected by homelessness to secure and maintain tenancies.

The council says that as well as helping people facing homelessness, it will also help reduce the number of empty homes in the county.

If the pilot project proves a success, then it is intended that further bids for capital funding will be made to allow more empty homes to be renovated for this purpose.

“We havealso applied for Government grants, and it is hoped the initial £500,000 investment will attract further funding from partner organisations such as the police, probation service and clinical commissioning groups,” a council spokesperson said.

Councillor Kevin Shaw, cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, said: “This is a really worthwhile project as it has the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives.

“It not only helps those in housing need, including families in crisis, but it will reduce the number of empty homes in County Durham. These are both key priorities for us and form part of our Strategic Housing Plan.”

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 placed new legal duties on local authorities to ensure everyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness has access to meaningful help, irrespective of their priority need status, as long as they are eligible for assistance.

So far, in 2018/2019, the council says it has placed more than 47 households in bed and breakfast accommodation. But if these properties were available, it claims these families and individuals could have been placed into suitable accommodation with the support they need at a much earlier opportunity.



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