Thurrock Council’s scheme to get homeless people off streets during height of pandemic to continue

By Local Democracy Reporter

THURROCK Council’s scheme to get homeless people off the streets during the height of the pandemic is set to continue.

A report to the housing overview and scrutiny committee shows Thurrock’s Housing Solutions team provided emergency accommodation to 78 people and housed a further five directly into long term accommodation between March to June.

The councils own temporary accommodation quickly filled up during lockdown leading the council to use rooms at Stifford Clays B&B and to find private landlords who could help.

The report said: “Identifying move on accommodation at that scale has been a massive challenge and the desire to see as many as possible remain close to familial and/or professional support networks meant making our landlord incentives available to all and increasing the size of those incentives. Those eligible were able to access our choice based lettings and we made direct offers in to council stock for those eligible but unable to bid. Where very high support needs where identified, we managed to secure supported accommodation in two cases.

“We have achieved a total of 54 successful moves into longer-term secure housing. All of those moves have included a support package with particular focus on building resilience and financial independence. In the vast majority of cases, we were able to achieve self-contained accommodation with Housing Benefit being supplemented for those under 35.”

The council spent an additional £776k and contributed to a monthly private rented sector bill, for nightly purchase accommodation, approaching £100k.

The report adds: “Going forward we will aim to make a suitable offer of accommodation to anyone who finds themselves roofless regardless of their ability to demonstrate they meet ‘Priority Need’ status.
“We’ve seen what can be achieved with the right amount of support but we’ve also seen the scale of the challenge and its impact on our resources.”

The scheme presented a “myriad of challenges” for the council with over half those needing help diagnosed with a mental health condition or issues relating to substance misuse.

Not every case had a successful outcome with five people returning to prison, five leaving the accommodation voluntarily and a further ten being evicted from their temporary accommodation because of their behaviour.

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