Appeal for private landlords to help reduce homelessness across Shropshire

Shropshire Council and the Shrewsbury Ark are appealing for private landlords to come forward to help reduce homelessness and rough sleeping in the county.

In March 2020, the Government launched the ‘Everyone In’ scheme to provide emergency accommodation for people in England who had been sleeping rough.

Shropshire Council’s response, which has been recognised nationally as good practice, has provided emergency shelter for over 150 households, a significant number of whom had been rough sleeping or were at risk of rough sleeping.

One of the hotels within the county who has provided accommodation is the Prince Rupert Hotel in Shrewsbury. Twenty-five of the most vulnerable adults who had previously been sleeping rough were placed here and supported by Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury Ark and hotel staff. Many of them have made incredible progress through their own determination, along with the wraparound care and support provided from several agencies such as the Riverside GP practice, Mind, and Shropshire Recovery Partnership.

Continuing support for rough sleepers

As the lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease, the council wants to find accommodation and employment for as many of the people placed into hotel accommodation as possible, but a shortage of properties in the key areas is making the task difficult.

Laura Fisher, Shropshire Council’s housing services manager, described the challenge:

“The word unprecedented has been used a lot in relation to the pandemic, and the housing situation is no different. I believe we have an opportunity to ensure we reduce homeless and rough sleeping numbers in Shropshire long term by continuing to work with those who have made progress and are ready for their own tenancies.

“Once hotels go back to ‘business as usual’ we need to be sure we can provide as many people as possible with somewhere to call home. We are already having conversations with our social housing providers, but there is not enough social housing to meet our needs, and we will need to rely on private landlords to help also.”

The location is important, as Wendy Faulkner, Manager at Shrewsbury Ark explains:

“Our clients don’t just need a roof over their head, many of them need ongoing care and support from multiple agencies to deal with issues such as their mental health, addiction, or simply to be able to access the activities we provide supporting them on their road to recovery. We also support them to maintain their properties once they have moved on.

“Ideally many of them would wish to have accommodation in Shrewsbury. We have found in the past that if they are in accommodation a long way out from the town centre, individuals can struggle to cope, which often leads to them returning to Shrewsbury’s streets. If we can find them accommodation in the town, we have a greater chance of helping them to move their life forward in a positive way.”

Joint appeal

Shropshire Council and The Shrewsbury Ark has put out a joint appeal for landlords to make contact and start a discussion about whether they have premises (anywhere in Shropshire) that could provide suitable accommodation.

The Shrewsbury Ark has applied for funding to support people placed into accommodation, which includes the care and upkeep of the property itself. The council was also recently successful in receiving Rough Sleeper Initiative funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for five new support roles. It is hoped that, by continuing to work together to provide the right support to enable rough sleepers to live independently, we’ll encourage more landlords to come forward.

If you are a private landlord and think you can help email either housing.options@shropshire.gov.uk or ark@shrewsburyark.co.uk

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