To receive the Housing and Homelessness Strategy Update for 2015; Report No. EHH 1510 (copy attached). The Report provides information on the progress made in meeting the strategic housing objectives that were established in 2011. The Housing and Homelessness fourth update and the delivery plan are appended to the Report.
The Panel was joined by the Head of Environmental Health and Housing (Ms Qamer Yasin), Strategy Enabling Managers (Ms Zoe Paine and Ms Sally Ravenhill) and the Housing Options Manger (Ms Suzannah Hellicar) to consider the Head of Environmental Health and Housing Report No. EHH 1510 providing the fourth update of the Housing and Homeslessness Strategy and the delivery plan. The strategic housing objectives had been established in 2011.
The Panel was reminded of the purpose of the Strategy, which was to make sure that Rushmoor’s residents had access to good quality homes that were affordable and appropriate to their needs. The Strategy had four themes:
· housing supply and the delivery of good quality housing
· homelessness and homelessness prevention
· meeting the needs of specific groups
· neighbourhoods and housing standards
It was noted that during 2014/15, 149 affordable homes had been delivered, equating to a total of 431 since the introduction of the strategy in 2011. Members were informed that the Wellesley development work had started, with the first 20 affordable units available from Spring 2016. North Town regeneration was described as First Wessex’s priority development, with 135 units delivered in 2014/15 and another 152 units due to be completed by 2017/18.
The Panel was informed that an old Sergent’s Mess had been developed into 45 units of temporary accommodation, with investments from Oak Housing and the Homes and Communities Agency. Some residents had been placed in the accommodation which was made up of large bedrooms that slept between 1-5 people, private kitchens and bathrooms and a large outside space. It was estimated that a £200,000 saving would be made by the Council per year. Members heard that this accommodation would only be available for seven years because of the Project Wellesley development, however, it was explained that more affordable housing would be made available before then.
During 2014/15, the Housing Options Team had given advice to over 600 households and provided 132 rent deposits to assist residents into the private sector. Rushmoor had given a £7,500 grant to go towards the Vine’s Night Shelter, which assisted 28 people. It was noted that this was a very successful programme as it also encouraged people to engage with the Vine. The Panel heard that the the Vine had received an award for excellent practice.
The presentation included a number of examples of work the Council had been doing in order to meet the needs of specific groups, including consultation work with Planning on pitch provision for gypsies, travellers and travelling show people. Other work involved home safety awareness training for older Nepalese residents with Hampshire Fire and Rescue, work with registered providers to deliver specialist housing for older residents and the development of wheelchair accessible units along with 90 disabled facilities grants used for ramps, grab rails and stair lifts to help residents stay in their homes.
It was reported that reviews of registered providers had improved partnership working as the Council had been able to gain a greater understanding of the way the providers operated. Members were also informed of the Council’s new partnerships with housing associatons and Hart District Council.
The Panel was then advised of the challenges faced by the Housing Strategy and Enabling Team included the new rent regime, viability challenges on affordable housing and the unknown impact of the Right to Buy scheme. The Housing Options Team had continued to see an increase in demand for the services provided, including tackling homelessness and moving residents from temporary into settled accommodation; there had also been an impact on the service due to reductions in other services, e.g. Supporting People. The Private Sector Housing Team had faced challenges around overcrowding, disrepair in the increasing number of housed in multiple occupation and the ability to assist residents to stay in their own homes as there had been a reduction in disabled facilities grants.
Members were informed that the Housing and Homelessness Strategy was due to end in March 2016 and that consultation for the 2016-2021 strategy would take place in early Spring 2016. The Panel requested that an interactive workshop should be arranged to enable it to have an influence in the early stages of the development of the next strategy.
The Panel NOTED the update.