This is why I thought it would be good to update you on the vital work we are carrying out to help people access good quality and affordable accommodation, as well as helping to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping. Some of this work has been accelerated as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in order to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our communities receive the help that they need as quickly as possible.

We have committed to supporting the development of 1,000 affordable homes for local people by 2025 in our Housing Strategy. I'm pleased to say that this year, working with local housing associations and developers, almost 200 affordable homes will be built across the district and let to households on the council's housing register. There is no doubt that this will make a huge difference to the quality of their lives.

Over the next few weeks, 17 families will be moving into some of the new affordable homes we are helping to provide on the Graylingwell development. In total, there will be 30 affordable homes provided on the site this year. Another 15 households have also recently moved into another significant scheme, now known as Brewery Close, which is at Southbourne. Like Graylingwell, this site is providing a mix of new homes for families and single people, both for sale and affordable rent.  As well as providing security, affordable homes enable people to stay in their local area, which also strengthens our economy; helps our key workers; and gives children better life opportunities.

We also provided £200,000 to the Greyfriars Housing Association in Chichester towards an affordable housing development for people of retirement age. These homes will be provided at social rents to people aged over 60, who are on low incomes and who have a connection to Chichester. It is hoped that the flats will be completed and ready to move into this summer, while a second phase is also being planned, which will provide a further five homes on the site. We have also been working with the association to help house older people who have lost their privately rented homes as a result of the pandemic.

One of our priorities is to increase the amount of private accommodation available in our district to those who need it. As part of our response to the pandemic, we have agreed to temporarily suspend fees for private landlords who joined our property management scheme, Homefinder. The service can help provide a guaranteed monthly income to landlords, while helping people in need of homes to access quality housing. It offers a complete lettings service for private landlords, from helping to find a tenant, to dealing with all of the paperwork and day to day running of the property.

We are also committed to providing more short stay homeless accommodation. In January, we started to redevelop our existing temporary accommodation so that we can provide an additional 17 flats for people in our district who are homeless. This is part of a wider project to increase the amount of much-needed short stay accommodation for people facing homelessness in the district. Sadly, we've seen an increase in the number of housing related enquiries; our existing emergency accommodation is operating at full capacity; and, we are expecting to see an increase in homelessness once the eviction ban is lifted. As a result of the pandemic, the demand for temporary accommodation is expected to increase, making this project even more important.

Helping rough sleepers is also a top priority. Our Rough Sleeper Outreach Team continues to work with rough sleepers in the district to offer them accommodation and encourage them to seek further support from our local partners. Last winter, we secured a £60,000 Government grant towards supporting rough sleepers in our district during the continuing pandemic. Of this funding, £32,000 will be used towards meeting the ongoing costs of providing temporary homes to keep rough sleepers in accommodation. The remaining £28,000 will go to local homeless charity, Stonepillow, to extend their Housing First team. This is a project that provides support to the most vulnerable rough sleepers, by enabling them to set up a new home for life and access the wider services that they need.

I'm pleased to say that the number of rough sleepers in our district is now lower than it has been for many years. A number of those who we have accommodated have been doing really well and are being supported to maintain their accommodation. We continue to do all we can for rough sleepers and working with other local agencies and partners to ensure than no one has to sleep rough in our district.

If you or someone you know needs help at this time or you want to find out more, please visit our Housing web pages.

Best Wishes

 

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council