Travelodges will no longer be used for Peterborough’s homeless after the city council spent £4 million purchasing new properties.
The council’s housing needs manager Sean Evans said the 29 new homes at Midland Road in West Town, which will be taken over by the authority, will alleviate the need for short stay bed and breakfast type accommodation for the city’s homeless.
The use of Travelodges for homeless families was flagged up by the Peterborough Telegraph in September 2016 when we revealed that an “unprecedented spike” in homelessness had forced the council to use the hotels for temporary accommodation, leaving the authority with a deficit of more than £1 million.
Since then, the council has begun using 80 homes at St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell for the homeless - after leasing the properties from housing firm Stef & Philips in a controversial deal - and 53 homes at Elizabeth Court in the city’s Park ward.
It also makes use of 75 hostel rooms.
Mr Evans told the council’s cabinet meeting today (Monday, January 15): “I’m relatively confident this is going to enable us to reduce the current bed and breakfast use down to zero.
“And along with preventative measures it will prevent people needing temporary accommodation at all.”
He added that four new members of staff had recently started in his department who will help prevent households from becoming homeless in the first place,
The properties at Midland Road will be rented out by housing association Cross Keys Homes, with the first home set to be handed over in July.
Cabinet member for communities Cllr Irene Walsh said: “I do believe this is going to be the sort of action we need to take and we need to take it now.
“The problem is a serious one and throughout the country.”
During 2016/17 the council experienced a 43 per cent increase in homelessness presentations.
It currently has around 350 households being put up in temporary accommodation.
The council is forecasting that the increased use of temporary accommodation will cost it an extra £5.7 million a year by 2020/21.
Cabinet member for resources Cllr David Seaton referred to the council’s announcement in November that it was converting an empty building at Bretton Court into a block of at least 40 flats, also to reduce homelessness.
He said: “We have already taken action to provide better accommodation for people that are homeless.”
On the Midland Road deal he added: “This is a really good step forward.”
Cabinet adviser Cllr Steve Allen said: “What we are doing is first class.”
Council leader Cllr John Holdich said: “This report represents a considerable investment from this council on homelessness and affordable housing which will stand us in good stead in the future.
“The rate (of homelessness) is already coming down and that’s largely down to Sean and his team.”
Cllr Holdich also made reference of a total of nearly 200 affordable homes in Newark Road and on the old John Mansfield school site which are being funded by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.