Torbay Council seeks to purchase properties to help tackle housing crisis

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(Last Updated On: May 10, 2022)

Torbay Council are considering proposals to purchase 37 properties in Torbay to help homeless families.

Under the initiative the properties will provide more suitable temporary accommodation for households whilst permanent accommodation is found.

Since April 2018 there has been a 150% increase in temporary accommodation need.

Due to the lack of affordable and social housing in Torbay, many families and individuals have been placed in costly and often unsuitable accommodation.

Currently temporary accommodation is sourced on a spot purchase basis from a handful of providers, bed and breakfasts and other holiday-based accommodation.

More than a quarter of Torbay’s housing market is made up of rental properties, with only half the national average of social housing. Any increase in rent, affects the ability of people on low incomes to pay. Combined with other cost of living factors and landlords leaving the private rented housing market, this is contributing to more and more people facing homelessness.

By having its own supply of temporary accommodation, Torbay Council will be able to offer more stability whilst a permanent housing solution is found.

As of the start of May a total of 157 households of which, 62 are families living in temporary accommodation.

To move forward with the proposals, Cabinet are recommending to Council borrowing up to £10million to fund the purchase and renovation costs of the properties. Rental income will be used to pay for the loan repayment costs, management and repairs of the properties.

Due to the urgent need to acquire the properties at pace, the council will enlist external expert support to source, acquire and refurbish the properties to the required standards.

The lack of accommodation on a spot purchase basis is becoming increasingly difficult for the council to manage and is having a significant impact on council budgets.

If Council agree to the proposals later this month, the first wave of properties would be ready for occupation by the end of September 2022, with all properties on board by the end of 2022.

Cllr Darren Cowell, Deputy Leader of Torbay Council, said; “There are a lot of reasons why families and individuals find themselves homeless – often through no fault of their own. The impact over the past few years of the pandemic, cost of living crisis and the dynamics of the local housing market have left families at breaking point. The investment will allow us to better help and support those in need as we work towards securing them permanent homes.”

Cllr Christine Carter, Cabinet Member for Corporate and Community Services, said; “Temporary accommodation causes further stresses and strains on those in need. Families in particular are not only suffering from a lack of suitably sized temporary accommodation, but an historic lack of investment in social and affordable housing.”

“By having our own stock of temporary accommodation, we will be able to gain stability on the sufficiency of family-based accommodation and security of the financial costs associated with this statutory function.”

The full report being presented to Cabinet on Tuesday 10 May can be found on the Council’s website.

Live Streaming and Hybrid Arrangements: To encourage more people to engage in their public meetings the Council is trialling live streaming our Cabinet meetings on their YouTube channel in addition to recording the meetings and publishing the recording on our website. To watch the meeting live please visit https://www.youtube.com/user/torbaycouncil.

Torbay Council are trialling hybrid meeting arrangements to enable officers and Councillors who are not members of the Cabinet to either attend the meeting in person or to attend the meeting remotely via Zoom. Read more about this trial via: https://www.torbay.gov.uk/news/pr8659/

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