Council Aims to ‘Break the Cycle’ of Rough Sleeping With 50 New Homes

Reading Borough Council’s commitment to keeping vulnerable rough sleepers off the streets and providing them with longer term homes and the support they need to turn their lives around, has been rewarded with a new £2.3 million Government grant.

In Reading, the money will pay for vital 24/7 staffing costs for the next four years at 40 modular units the Council is building on the Cattle Market car park site. It will also fund staffing and support costs until March 2024 at specialist accommodation for 10 vulnerable females, which be provided on a separate Council-owned site.

By  increasing the supply of longer term, safe and secure accommodation for rough sleepers and reducing reliance on temporary B & B accommodation, the Council intends to break the cycle of rough sleeping in Reading.

The new £2.3 million award for Reading forms part of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announcement today (Oct 29th) and the Government’s  Next Steps Accommodation Programme.

At the height of the first phase of the pandemic in March, local authorities across the UK moved swiftly and decisively to offer temporary accommodation to rough sleepers, and those at risk of rough sleeping, as part of an ‘Everyone In’ campaign. In Reading, more than 260 unique individuals were placed in local B & B and hotel accommodation, helping to keep them safe. Local capacity was available thanks to a previous Council push to drive down the number of families in B & B accommodation from 130 families in 2017 to zero just 18 months later, resulting in savings of over £1 million. This new funding now allows Reading Borough Council to capitalise on its success.

John Ennis, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Housing, said:

“Earlier this year we acted swiftly and decisively to identify rough sleepers, and those at risk of rough sleeping, getting over 260 individuals safely into temporary accommodation at the height of the pandemic. This new money now provides us with an opportunity to truly help rough sleepers rebuild their lives with long-term accommodation and the right level of support.

“It is only by providing a safe and secure base, that people can begin to think about turning their lives around. Very often individuals will have highly complex needs which require not only a roof over their heads, but wrap around support and tailored services to work with them on a one to one basis and at the pace they need. This money will allow the Council to do that and we are grateful that the Government has now recognised how essential that is.

“We need to remember that our work to tackle the homeless crisis in Reading didn’t just begin with Covid. Alongside our many partners in Reading, the Council has a strong, proactive and early intervention approach to homelessness going back a number of years. We are not afraid of looking at innovative solutions, such as the 28 modular units we built at Lowfield Road back in 2017, and the 40  modular units we are now building at Cattle Market, which will be delivered early next year.

“Reading has an essential need for accommodation with support for vulnerable people with high needs and the creation of a support service that meets the needs of vulnerable women is especially welcomed.

“I’m delighted with this new funding. We can now deliver on our longer term plans to prevent people returning to the streets.”

Reading Borough Council’s successful £2.3 million bid for revenue funding, announced today by the MCHLG, is in addition to the £750,000 award announced in September as a temporary contribution to accommodation and support costs for rough sleepers in Reading.

Notes To Editor

In August this year Reading Borough Council agreed to build 40 new self-contained modular units at the Cattle Market car park site. The full Policy Committee report and detail can be found at  https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s13455/Modular%20Home%20Development.pdf

Oscar Mortali

For media enquiries about this release email oscar.mortali@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 2301