Under the Homelessness Reduction Act, the council has a legal duty to provide anybody who is homeless, or threatened with homelessness, with advice and appropriate assistance. This can, of course, include the provision of temporary accommodation.
The council already has two short-stay accommodation facilities in the borough in South Ashford — at Christchurch House and Christchurch Lodge. These have helped almost 200 households at the most vulnerable time in their lives and have given them an opportunity to start again, to progress from there into accommodation suitable for them.
However, the council only has these two eight-bedroom short-stay accommodation facilities, and currently, there are just over 100 people to whom the council has accepted a homelessness duty. These people stay in either bed and breakfast accommodation or paid for nightly accommodation. On average these placements cost around £260 per week and, aside from the huge impact this has on those households, it puts a considerable strain on the council’s finances and budgets.
If the council has its own facilities that can house residents at what is a traumatic time in their lives, it is considered that there are benefits for everyone. Residents who do find themselves homeless will be provided with a base upon which they can seek to find more permanent accommodation, while the taxpayer and the council reduce their ongoing financial obligation of paying for third-party temporary accommodation. It is also not as cost-effective for the council to renovate and repurpose old buildings as it is to provide a new one from fresh.
Therefore, the council is seeking to provide more short-stay temporary accommodation that means it will, in the long-term, save money and provide a much better solution for those people who find themselves homeless in the Ashford borough.