Homelessness in St Albans to be tackled with £500k government grant
PUBLISHED: 12:51 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:51 05 December 2017
A £500k government grant is set fund services to reduce homelessness in the district.
The money will partly be used to encourage private landlords to rent to people seeking housing assistance from the council.
St Albans district council (SADC) portfolio holder for housing Brian Ellis told a Cabinet meeting: “Demand for council housing is high and there is limited availability, so we are referring some people who are seeking housing assistance to the private rented sector.
“To make it easier for people to find privately rented homes, we are encouraging landlords to make their properties available through a new scheme.
“We are also providing funding to the credit union so people can access affordable loans for deposits and their first month’s rent.”
Another scheme involves paying St Albans Credit Union to create ‘jam jar’ savings accounts for tenants to set aside housing and rent money.
The credit union will also provide loans to help tenants pay deposits and rent.
These jam jar accounts are a reaction to the introduction of Universal Credit in the district, SADC has confirmed.
Cllr Ellis said: “There are people who have difficulty managing their money and they want to prioritise keeping a roof over their heads. “These jam jar accounts seem a good way to do it.”
This scheme has so far helped more than 200 people find a home since 2010, according to the council.
It is also funding additional beds as part of its severe weather emergency provision, putting money towards additional temporary accommodation, and paying Hightown Housing Association to employ a street drinking outreach worker.
The outreach worker will work “intensively” with rough sleepers and street drinkers to help them access services and support.
In addition to this worker, two housing officers will be taken on to encourage private landlords to work with the council.
This comes ahead of the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act next year.
The council anticipates there will be an increase in customer enquiries once it comes into force because the Act imposes a greater duty on the council to provide housing advice relating to the prevention and relief of homelessness.