Empty properties to be renovated for the homeless

Homelessness is being tackled in South Ribble. Picture posed by a model
Homelessness is being tackled in South Ribble. Picture posed by a model

Empty properties in Leyland and South Ribble are being renovated and brought back into use for homeless people in the area.

As part of South Ribble Council’s ‘Prevention of Homelessness’ strategy, which outlines that the number of people turning to local services for help is on the rise, an initiative has been devised to help bring empty properties back into use.

The council has identified 14 properties as empty which it wants to target this current financial year, with a further 14 in the pipeline for 2014/15.

Two have already been renovated in the borough.

Coun Stephen Robinson, the cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “There are some areas of the council’s services that we are examining to see if further resources could prove beneficial and one such area is homelessness.

“There are empty properties that require renovation, and could be put to good use for homeless people, and we are working with other organisations to help people to be rehoused.”

He added that some money has been put aside from the budget to help the council bring houses back into occupation.

The strategy for 2012-2016 shows that there was an increase from 2009/10 and 2010/11 in the number of formal homelessness presentations in the borough, up from 59 to 76.

It also reveals that the number of 16 and 17-year-olds turning to the service for housing advice has risen from 39 cases in 2009/10, to 68 cases in 2010/11.

The document also mentions that the new government welfare reforms, such as the Bedroom Tax, will create further pressures for the homelessness prevention scheme.

It states: “Changes in welfare benefits will almost certainly impact on homelessness services, particularly the extension of the single room rent policy to those 25 to 35 years, and the introduction of penalties for under-occupancy in social housing.”

It outlines that the main causes of homelessness in South Ribble continue to be parents, relatives and friends no longer being able to accommodate, non-violent relationship breakdown, and the ending of assured short hold tenancies.

It adds that in recent times, “the council’s service has seen growing numbers of those experiencing mortgage difficulties coming to us for help and advice.”