HALF a million pounds has been awarded to Reading Borough Council to help prevent homelessness and reduce the number of rough sleepers in the town.
The Council’s Housing team has been successful in bidding for £200,000 from the government’s Private Rented Sector Access Fund to support households at risk of becoming homeless.
The money will allow the Council to appoint four tenancy sustainment officers to: prevent homelessness; reduce the number of households in temporary accommodation; develop and maintain relations between the council and private landlords and provide resettlement assistance to people moving on from supported accommodation.
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has also confirmed that Reading will receive £330,000 from its Rough Sleeper Initiative Grant.
The Council was awarded £316,000 from the fund in June last year to pay for extra street outreach workers to deliver direct support to rough sleepers; increase the number of emergency bed spaces; extend the operation of the FAITH Christian group night shelter and provide additional support for people moving into independent accommodation.
The latest sum, which was provisionally agreed in September pending a review of the Council’s progress and performance, will fund the same initiatives in 2019/20 and pay for up to three detox/rehab placements.
The annual count of rough sleepers saw the number of people bedded down in Reading’s streets fall from 31 to 25 last November.
Cllr John Ennis, Lead Councillor for Housing, said:
“Homelessness and a lack of affordable housing continue to be important issues in Reading so I am delighted our Housing team has been successful in obtaining this government funding.
“We have already seen the positive impact of the Council’s new homelessness model combined with the extra government cash last year and this funding will enable the continuation of important initiatives to reduce the number of rough sleepers in the town.
“A significant proportion of people in Reading have homes in the private rented sector and the funding in this area will strengthen the Council’s work to build good relations with private landlords and help those tenants at risk of becoming homeless.”