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Birmingham receives £711,000 to work with landlords to tackle homelessness

Published: Friday, 29th March 2019

Birmingham City Council has been awarded £711,000 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to work with the private-rented housing sector to prevent homelessness.

Over the last few years, Birmingham has seen a dramatic rise in the number of people who are homeless. Every month the council receives over 600 new applications; representing a rise of 140% over the last five years. However, the country is in the grip of a national housing crisis and therefore available, affordable properties are scarce.

As a solution to providing more options for people who are suffering from homelessness, the council has put in a successful funding bid that will change how it works with landlords and privately-rented properties in the city.

Cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods, Cllr Sharon Thompson said, “Homelessness is a tragedy that is bringing needless suffering to thousands of families right across Birmingham. Alongside our partners in the voluntary sector, we have been doing all we can to try and prevent homelessness. However, in the wake of the council having to find £690m of savings to our budget, resources are being stretched to their very limit.

“This new funding is imperative. It means we can begin to unlock some of the potential relief to the homelessness crisis that the private-rented housing sector can bring.”

The funding has been allocated to support two new schemes. The first will see an allocation of £340,000 for ‘transition insurance’. This is a new scheme set up in collaboration with Southwark Council. It will provide landlords who create a 12 month assured tenancy, with a council customer, with an incentive payment as well as providing an insurance policy in place of a single cash deposit.

An additional £371,000 has also been granted that will work on a bespoke two-step ‘Secure and Sustain’ model.

The ‘Secure’ stage looks to provide a range of incentives to private landlords that will enable the authority to acquire more properties in this sector for those in need of accommodation and thereby preventing people from becoming homeless. The incentives are being designed by the council with the help of the Landlords Forum and include such things as implementing a damage liability scheme and over £60,000 in funding to provide deposits on behalf of individuals who cannot afford the cost.

The ‘Sustain’ part of the model ensures people are able to maintain their tenancies in privately-rented housing. A new team will be created who will look to identify where difficulties are emerging and provide support to prevent evictions or the ending of tenancies. The support includes a range of services including debt advice and mediation if potential disputes arise. Through this funding, the council will be able to support individuals in finding the right help as well as providing a single point of contact for the customer.

An initial target for March 2020 is to deliver 150 privately rented properties for homeless prevention, relief or discharge of duty has been set.

For those at risk of homelessness or in need of advice, please visit: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/50113/advice_and_support

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