“Can the Leader confirm that this Council has in place a plan to ensure that this winter, through lockdown and the early months of 2021, that no-one shall be left homeless on the Streets of Welwyn Hatfield?”
The Leader asked Councillor N.Pace (Executive Member, Housing and Community), to answer:-
“Thank you for your question.
Members will be aware that on the 26 March this year, the government, in response to the Pandemic, asked every local housing authority to bring ‘everyone in’, referring to anyone who was rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping.
Our team did an amazing job of securing accommodation on that first weekend for more than twenty individuals; over the course of the next few months, the council housed more than sixty people who were at risk of rough sleeping and needed to be protected from the pandemic.
I am pleased to report that we have been working to find suitable long term solutions for all of the individuals helped during this time, other than people who disengaged or found their own accommodation, and the majority of people have now been successfully resettled.
As a result of the second lockdown, government has announced funding for specific areas, where rough sleeping is still very prevalent. They have also asked that local authorities do what they can to protect anyone who is rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping.
I am pleased to say that the housing team were successful in a bid to the Ministry of Housing under their Next Steps Accommodation Programme and have been awarded more than £300,000. This will be used for a number of projects, all of which will help support people who are or who are at risk of rough sleeping. We have secured some additional money to ensure that hotel accommodation, which is where the majority of people were placed initially during Lockdown One, is available where this is needed. We will also be expanding our Housing First project and providing alternative emergency accommodation, in place of Hatfield Night Shelter, which is currently shut.
In the meantime, we are working with our partners Resolve to provide emergency accommodation for lockdown and the Winter months at one of the council’s temporary accommodation sites. The accommodation will be designated for people who have been or who are at risk of rough sleeping and the team will provide support on site and to facilitate successful move on.
As part of the council’s Severe Weather Emergency Provision, we are also working in partnership with the YMCA to make sure that additional rooms are available for this client group.
Finally, we have worked extremely closely with colleagues in health, adult services, and social care, during this time. Where needed, hot food will be provided to people who don’t have facilities and the team will work with partners to ensure that other support needs are also met and that sustainable housing solutions are secured.
Councillor L.Chesterman in a supplementary question asked that the Council had a great response to keeping the homeless safe during the first lockdown and that we had not received the funding to help the homeless stay off the streets and have had to rely on an application for finance to enable us to use our own funding. Do you agree with me that the Government had a responsibility to reintroduce helping the homeless be safe during the pandemic?
Councillor Pace stated he was disappointed that it did not come through straight away. However, I am pleased the team have made the subsequent applications and used all their power within its resources to get the money through.