Plans to reduce homelessness in Worthing

Rising calls for housing services have prompted Worthing Borough Council to include £270,000 in its budget to help cope with the pressure.

The former Downview pub in Worthing is being converted into affordable housing for people who have been made homeless . Photo: Google maps SUS-180530-133030001

At a meeting of the full council, members were told that there had been a ‘significant increase’ in the number of people looking for emergency and temporary accommodation since the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act.

The council has already made strides towards helping those most in need, with the former Downview Pub, in Station Parade, to be converted into 13 homes.

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Leader Daniel Humphreys told the meeting that 182 households had been guided away from homelessness in the past year.

With West Sussex County Council cutting its housing support budget by £1.7m – and a further £2.3m cut still to come – borough and district councils have been left to deal with much of the fallout.

Mr Humphreys said a contingency sum of £210,000 had been set aside to deal with the impact of that decision ‘while we work constructively with our partners to find long-term solutions to supported housing’.

On top of that, the council plans to buy more property to use as temporary and emergency accommodation.

Labour councillors said they were ‘supportive’ of the work being carried out but suggested the council go one step further and set up a local housing company, as others have done.

An amendment tabled by the group stated: “This would enable the council to work alongside the provision made by Worthing Homes to develop residential schemes which target the particular housing needs in Worthing for affordable homes for rent and sale, move-on accommodation and other specific housing needs as they are identified.”

The amendment added that the company would generate additional income for the council, and suggested that £50,000 could be spent looking into the feasibility of the suggestion.

Mr Humphreys responded: “I’ll take my £50,000 fee from you now – yes, it’s feasible. You don’t even need to be a council to do it. Anyone can set up a housing company.

“The question is what do you do with it?”

He added that the idea might be looked at at a later date.