Tackling housing issues and preventing homelessness at centre of new strategy

Strategies which aim to help people by tackling their housing issues and provide support to County Durham’s homeless are to go before councillors next week.

Durham County Council has worked with partners to develop both a housing strategy and a homelessness strategy, with the authority’s Cabinet being asked to agree that consultation be carried out on the content of each.

The County Durham Housing Strategy seeks to put people first by identifying the issues residents face in terms of housing and coming up with ways to address them.

These include:

  • Delivering homes to meet the needs of older people within communities and supporting people to live independently for as long as possible;
  • Raising standards across the private rented sector through seeking greater licencing powers to tackle problem landlords, as well as continuous engagement with landlords and the extension of the council’s private landlord accreditation scheme for responsible landlords;
  • Working with those communities most affected by long term empty properties. This would include working with property owners and landlords with the aim of bringing empty properties back into use wherever possible;
  • Maximising the delivery of affordable homes, both by securing developer contributions as part of new housing development and through close partnership working with registered providers and Homes England.

The document seeks to provide a strategic framework to inform the actions and investment of the council and its partners, and contains a series of key messages setting out their delivery priorities and approach to addressing housing issues.

The strategy has been developed to ensure the council is well positioned to maximise future opportunities for funding support.

The County Durham Homelessness Strategy aims to set out a strategic approach and key priorities and actions towards preventing homelessness across County Durham over the next three years.

The strategy includes three overall aims and an action plan for each. The aims are as follows:

  1. To prevent homelessness through early intervention, through provision of advice and a range of prevention tools.
  2. To increase access to and the supply of accommodation for those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, by increasing the existing supply of accommodation and developing a proposal for a buy to lease scheme.
  3. To provide a range of support services to reduce the risk of households becoming homeless, by ensuring monitoring systems are in place to understand need and working in partnership with agencies to access support services.

Subject to the approval of Cabinet next Wednesday, both strategies will be published for consultation for six weeks beginning on 25 January and running until 8 March. Views will be sought from residents and other stakeholders.

Cllr Kevin Shaw, the council’s Cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, said: “The housing and homelessness strategies are two very important documents which will help shape the future of our county.

“The housing strategy identifies not just the challenges we face but how best we can address them and this is by putting people first and importantly is it is also flexible which will enable us to respond to any future funding opportunities as they may arise.

“The homelessness strategy seeks to build on our successful existing approach of preventing homelessness through early intervention and providing any necessary support.

“We would encourage anyone with an interest to take part in the consultations and we look forward to receiving people’s comments.”

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