To consider a report on the Council’s provision for homelessness in line with the Homelessness Reduction Act.
(Executive Councillor: Cllr R Fuller)
Contact: J Taylor 8119
That the Homelessness Strategy for Huntingdonshire be adopted.
Consideration was given to a report by the Head of Customer Services to which was appended the Huntingdonshire Homelessness Review & Strategy and the Homelessness Strategy Action Plan 2017 (copies of which are appended in the Minute Book). The Homelessness Strategy provided clear purpose as to how the Council would address homelessness issues within the District. Executive Councillors were informed that it was a statutory requirement to publish a Homelessness Strategy every five years, to review homelessness in the area and produce a Strategy detailing how it would prevent homelessness and fulfil its wider duties under the homelessness legislation.
that the Homelessness Strategy 2017 be adopted.
The Homelessness Strategy is to be presented to the Panel.
Contact: J Taylor 388119
In presenting the draft Homelessness Strategy (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book), the Housing Needs and Resources Manager explained that it focuses on early intervention and supporting people experiencing homelessness as well as delivering more affordable homes together with the Housing Strategy. It has been prepared to meet the requirements of the new Homelessness Reduction Act due to come into force in April 2018. The Trailblazer project, which resulted from a successful bid for Government funding, was intended to enable early intervention and prevention of homelessness and to help co-ordinate across local public sector organisations. This project covers the whole of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and started earlier in the year with recruitment to all posts now completed.
The Panel was informed that many of the actions proposed are expected to be delivered within the next 12 months and that innovative approaches through the Trailblazer project are likely to identify additional solutions. Actions will be reviewed regularly and the Strategy is a live document which is likely to be refreshed sooner than the 5 year statutory timeframe.
When asked if the Council has considered building homes itself as South Cambridgeshire District Council have done on exemption sites, the Panel was reminded that they are a stock-owning council and that it was generally accepted that the Council does not want to become a social landlord again. However, there are various options being explored through which the Council could help to provide more social housing. A range of options for housing, including modular housing units, are being explored through the Housing Strategy.
Members were concerned about wider impacts of homelessness on residents, with those losing homes often finding it difficult to access jobs, education and other services. The Executive Councillor for Housing and Planning stated that the Council is committed to tackling housing issues to reduce such issues for residents.
Concerns have been raised about the number of empty homes owned by registered providers in the area. The Panel was informed that Luminus’ disposal program is capped at 25-30 homes being sold each year and that decisions were taken after viability assessments with stringent standards applied, for example standards related to energy efficiency. The process is approved by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), with the Council agreeing to the limit on numbers. Void times, when properties are empty, have been above average and this is monitored by the Council and policed by the HCA. Steps are being taken to improve void times and when individual properties are vacant for a longer time investigations have taken place which identify reasons for this.
A Member raised concerns about the effect of Government changes and further housing development on private landlords as their investments can be affected by housing development where this affects house prices and impacts on their capital appreciation. When asked about how the need to build more housing should be balanced with the impact on private landlords, the Housing Needs and Resources Manager explained that both nationally ... view the full minutes text for item 41