REVEALED: Homeless families in temporary accommodation at two year high
Plans to axe homeless crises fund postponed Image: EXPOSE via Google.
The number of homeless people and families being housed in temporary accommodation in Oldham is at the highest for two years, bosses have revealed.
There has been a 35 pc increase in households living in temporary accommodation provided by the council compared to the first quarter of last year.
Cabinet member for housing, Councillor Hannah Roberts told a meeting that the authority now has 223 households in temporary homes, including people within the Bed Every Night scheme.
A ‘significant increase’ in victims trying to flee domestic abuse has piled pressure on the town hall, which under the new Domestic Abuse Act has a legal duty to provide safe accommodation which cannot include hotels or B&Bs.
Chiefs warn that the number of households in temporary accommodation will rise further following the ending of the moratorium ban on bailiff evictions earlier this year, causing more people who rent privately to become homeless.
And the cost of providing such housing is increasing across the region due to a ‘lack of available and cost-effective options’, officers say.
The cabinet has agreed a new temporary accommodation strategy which covers the three years from 2021 to 2024.
Under the plan a homeless person would be provided shelter in either an emergency B&B placement, a nightly paid self contained dwelling, various council managed accommodation or refuge accommodation.
Coun Roberts said: “There is a continuing upward pressure on our services around the numbers of households becoming homeless.
“And a growing number of people we have in temporary accommodation who we have accepted we have a duty to house but have not been able to find a home for.”
She said that Section 21 no fault eviction notices continued to be a main driver of homelessness, and said it was a ‘failure’ of the government to have not yet abolished them.
And Coun Roberts told members there was a ‘real reduction’ in the numbers of social homes coming forward to let.
“It’s been well under 20 a week most weeks, actually it was the lowest figure ever that we had, we just had five social homes that were to let and you can see if the supply is decreasing to that extent and the pressures around people approaching our services and being eligible for support from the council,” she said.
“Something has to give, and that something is that we have to place people in temporary accommodation and they will be living in it for longer.”
Since 2018 and the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act, Oldham has seen a ‘gradual increase’ in people presenting as homeless, which has resulted in the highest percentage rise in people going in temporary accommodation across the whole of Greater Manchester.
However the number of families being housed in B&Bs in Oldham is significantly lower compared with the second quarter of 2019-20 – although numbers are again increasing, Coun Roberts told members.
The council intends to acquire more leased accommodation that it will manage in various location across the borough, which is more cost-effective and sustainable.
It is also aiming to use buildings it owns which could be suitable for use as temporary accommodation, and seek government funding to make projects ‘viable and deliverable’.
At the cabinet meeting, leaders also agreed a five year strategy to tackle homelessness, which ties in with its temporary accommodation plan.
Chiefs say they expect to find the number of people needing emergency help will grow because of the cut to Universal Credit.
Priorities in the new plan include early identification of people at risk of becoming homeless, and stepping in before a situation reaches crisis levels.
Preventing recurrent homelessness and finding better ways to support individuals, combined with partnership working is another key element of the plan.
Council leader Arooj Shah said: “I think it’s one of our most important responsibilities as a local authority to make sure our residents are safe and in an appropriate home.
“It’s a massive challenge.”
Words: Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV