Move to cut temporary housing costs

Housing bosses in Wolverhampton are taking steps to cut the cost of providing temporary accommodation for homeless families – after spending more than £1.7 million on B&Bs and hotels over the last 12 months.

Wolverhampton Council
Wolverhampton Council

The use of temporary emergency accommodation for families who became unintentionally homeless during 2020 to 2021 soared by more than 50 per cent, with 252 placements made in the city compared to 123 in 2019 to 2020.

This also accounted for the substantial increase in spending, which rose from just over £670,000 in 2019 to 2020.

The local authority is now looking to approve the immediate use of 20 more council-owned homes for temporary housing, alongside the acquisition of an additional 50 disused properties to increase stock.

Wolverhampton Homes, which provides the council’s homelessness services, is responsible for the allocation and monitoring of all temporary accommodation in the city.

In a report to the council’s cabinet, homelessness strategy and external relationships manager, Anthony Walker, said: “A budget of between £8 million and £10 million will be required for the purchase of up to 50 units of additional properties and any repairs required to ensure they are suitable for letting.

“The council holds a number of properties within its stock that are allocated for temporary accommodation use.

“If a household is found to have no other accommodation options, a placement will be made into temporary accommodation whilst Wolverhampton Homes works to secure a suitable settled tenancy for that household.

“As of the end of 2020, the portfolio of local authority-owned temporary accommodation comprised of 83 individual units, which could temporarily house up to 434 permitted occupants.

“In Wolverhampton, a clear increase in the number of presentations of households and the number of subsequent homeless applications can be seen, with a 25 per cent increase from 2018 to 2019 to 2019 to 2020,” he added.

“A higher demand on settled accommodation and a lack of properties for moving on has created an increase in the length of stay of households in temporary accommodation.

“When comparing the length of stay from 2019 to 2020, there had been an increase of 114 per cent in private temporary accommodation and a 69 per cent increase in local authority owned units.”

A number of properties owned by the council that are currently used as temporary accommodation are due to be demolished as part of the authority’s ongoing regeneration programme, and existing homelessness contracts are also due to expire in 2022 to 2023.

National figures published last year showed that there were a total of 88,330 households across the country in temporary accommodation as of December 31, 2019 – an increase of 5.7 per cent on 2018 and the highest level since 2006.

Wolverhampton Council cabinet will discuss the housing proposals on March 17.

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