Friday, 22 March 2013

£1 Million Investment To Bring Empty Homes Back Into Use

Empty homes are set to be given a new lease of life with a £1 million cash injection by South Cambridgeshire District Council.

The investment could see up to six homes in the district being purchased and brought up to a good standard before they are used to house families and individuals who are in need of temporary accommodation while a permanent home can be found.

Council housing bosses have said that the economic downturn and national changes to benefits systems has meant more people need support and the cost of using bed and breakfast accommodation as a short term solution has risen.

As well as cutting the bed & breakfast bill the homes will also be offered on a short-term basis to people who are temporarily homeless and on the Council’s waiting list.

The Council is also focussing on preventing families becoming homeless and has a team in place to offer support and advice before people find themselves homeless.

Other measures to bring empty homes back into use also include a grant scheme where up to £10,000 will be awarded to a home owner to bring their property up to a good standard in exchange for it being used as affordable rented accommodation for a period of six years.

A hostel in Waterbeach is also being redeveloped to improve and increase short-term accommodation for families and individuals who are homeless.

Cllr Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We currently have just over 600 homes sitting empty in the district which could provide valuable housing for those who find themselves homeless. We have a duty to help vulnerable people and sometimes there is no other option but to put families into bed and breakfast accommodation for short periods which is far less than ideal. Buying these properties will help us to give more stability for people who find themselves temporarily homeless as well as free up some of the money that we have had to spend on bed and breakfast.

“As well as looking on the open market, we’ve also written to owners of all properties in the district that have been empty for six months or more asking them if we can help them bring them back into use, either through buying them or helping them access loans to bring them up to standard and rented out at affordable rates.”

Owners of empty properties in South Cambridgeshire who are interested in finding out more about South Cambridgeshire District Council’s scheme should call the housing policy team on 03450 450 051.