SHORT-TERM leases from property owners could be used to take families out of emergency accommodation situations as part of a new initiative to be considered by City Hall.
Councillor Mick Nugent (SF) is to ask the local authority to seek expressions of interest from property owners who can make empty housing units available for short leases, possibly six months, to homeless people and families.
Mr Nugent believes this could be extended if the lease proves successful and these types of tenancies would allow city council workers to find more permanent solutions for those registered as homeless, while reducing pressure on frontline homelessness services.
A similar programme has already been rolled out by Denbighshire County Council in Wales where the local authority pays the landlord six months’ rent in advance and manages the property for the duration of the short-term lease.
The latest homelessness figures show that there are 76 families currently living in emergency accommodation in the city, while 94 people are recorded as living in emergency accommodation for six months or longer. A further 51 people have been in emergency accommodation for six months out of the last 12.
The Council drastically reduced the numbers of people representing themselves to the Homeless Persons Unit last month by 956 to 648, but 200 new applicants have been added to the housing list this year already, with just 50 houses allocated so far this year.
Mr Nugent said: “There is a council in the UK advertising a scheme like this. People have properties and they might not have decided what they are doing with them, like family homes where elderly parents passed away, and they might not want to go down the road of long leases or becoming landlords themselves.
“The six months could be extended to a year. The advantage is that it could be something that could allow people to help families that are in emergency accommodation. There are people with properties that might be able to make them available for up to a year to help someone, as a short-term measure, who is in temporary accommodation.
“The council would be given time to sort out their permanent status during the six months and after that, the landlord might get to know the person.
“We know there are a lot of landlords that don’t want to deal with people on Housing Assitance Payment, families with kids, and they might have perceptions of people that are in temporary accommodation. This could allow landlords the opportunity to get to know people like this who are very often everyday families who just had to leave rental accommodation and who would never have imagined that they would have ended up in emergency accommodation,” he added.
The matter will now be discussed at the Council’s housing and community functional committee before being returned to full council.
Councillor Thomas Gould warned that the housing list will go beyond 4,000 applicants sooner rather than later, with fewer social housing allocations compared to new applicants so far this year.
The council has been set a target of building 2,200 homes by 2021. More than 450 homes are currently in construction in the city with a further 560 in the planning stages.