Progress made tackling homelessness and rough sleeping in Peterborough - but ‘surge of evictions’ expected

Progress has been made tackling homelessness and rough sleeping in Peterborough, but a “surge of evictions” is expected soon.

Friday, 13th November 2020, 8:41 am

Peterborough City Council has increased its stock of temporary accommodation after being criticised for sending families to Travelodges and B&Bs following a “sharp and sudden increase” in homeless households in 2018.

This included sending 63 families to Travelodges outside of the city, including as far away as Doncaster.

However, in a new report issued to councillors on the authority’s Adults and Communities Scrutiny Committee, director of housing needs and supply Mohamed Hussein said no households are being accommodated in B&Bs either inside or outside the city, despite rising numbers asking for support.

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Rough sleepers in Peterborough

Moreover, the number of rough sleepers in the city has dropped from an estimated 37 last year to five.

But Mr Hussein has issued a warning note once a government ban on evicting renters from private properties ends, stating in his report that the council is “expecting a surge in demand over the coming months”.

He added: “The impact of the pandemic is likely to be far reaching in terms of housing and homelessness, making it difficult for some to meet their housing costs.

“This will become clearer once the furlough scheme has been ended and there is an understanding of the true impact on employment levels and incomes across the city.”

Since April there have been 1,680 homeless presentations to the council.

This is in comparison to 2,231 in the entirety of 2019/20 and 2,355 in 2018/19.

The council has invested - and received government funding - to help prevent homelessness and rough sleeping in recent years.

This has seen more staff hired, the rate of new affordable homes being increased, a renewed drive on homelessness prevention and the creation of a team to secure properties in the private sector,

The authority’s Housing Needs team “successfully prevented and relieved homelessness” for 775 households in 2019/2020, the report states, and since October 1 this year has supported 69 households into private rented sector accommodation.

The number of rough sleepers in Peterborough is also said to have dropped to an estimated number of five, compared to 37 last year.

During the coronavirus pandemic 123 rough sleepers have been accommodated in emergency shelter, with 90 having now been supported into longer term accommodation.

Mr Hussein noted: “During the recent Covid-19 lockdown huge progress has been made in housing rough sleepers in hotels and then transferring them to longer-term accommodation after their needs had been assessed.

“By working with its partners the council has been able to provide the support needed by the former rough sleepers to encourage them to leave their lives on the street for good.

“During 2020 alone, our monthly rough sleeper counts have seen a reduction from 29 in January to only five in October.”

During the pandemic support was offered 24 hours a day with three meals being provided by Safer off the Streets Partnership on top of access to physical and mental health care and drug and alcohol support.