Plan outlined for new homeless accommodation in West Norfolk
Extra accommodation is being created in West Norfolk to cope with the area’s rising homelessness problem.
West Norfolk Council has identified a group of rough sleepers, many of whom suffer from addiction, mental health problems and other complex needs, that it is struggling to house.
In order to tackle the issue, it is developing 10 new accommodation units, in two or three vacant properties, which it hopes the group will be able to use by February.
This measure will serve as a stopgap until longer term specialist accommodation is created in two to three years’ time, which the council plans to develop with help from Norfolk’s clinical commissioning group and county council.
The issue was discussed at a meeting of the borough’s homelessness and housing delivery task group this afternoon.
A council officer told the session: “They’re people with, often, characteristically, addiction problems and mental health problems which makes interventions challenging and they are often very difficult for statutory agencies to support.”
The number of newly-homeless applications are rising in the borough, the officer added.
Over the coming months, the council will block-book some bed and breakfast accommodation to reduce the number of people rough-sleeping in the borough, which the officer described as “planning for the worst case scenario”.
“The housing support providers, the hostel providers, are really struggling with recruitment and retention,” the officer said.
“All of these factors have created, in some senses, a perfect storm, but we think we’ve got to approach this again by planning for the worst, and putting what resources we can in.”
Meanwhile, the county council is consulting with the public on a draft strategy to provide safe accommodation for people fleeing domestic abuse in Norfolk.
The strategy identifies a number of shortcomings with provision in the county.
Not only is there a lack of refuge accommodation in Norfolk, but the strategy warns that there shouldn’t just be a focus on refuge, but should make a wider offer of forms of accommodation.
It also highlights a lack of accommodation for men fleeing domestic abuse – of which there is an increasing number in Norfolk.
Looking at the picture in West Norfolk specifically, an officer said: “We are seeing a significant increase in people coming forward seeking assistance, fleeing domestic abuse, so all of our services are at [full] capacity in relation to that.”