A bed a breakfast owned and run by Swale council has been given the thumbs up.
The proposal to buy a property to provide emergency accommodation for the homeless was approved by cabinet members when they meet at Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, last night.
The society scrutinises council decisions and plans
It means it can now begin its search to find a three or four bedroom house in the Sittingbourne area.
It’s estimated a capital investment of £180,000 is needed to buy the property and carry out any refurbishments.
Funds of £150,000 will come from monies awarded to the council for bringing empty houses back into use, plus £36,800 available from private sector sources.
The facility would initially be managed by housing services with an additional part-time worker partly funded through an estimated full-occupancy rental income of £312 a week.
The local authority has a legal duty to provide emergency accommodation to homeless households.
But due to increasing demands, there have been occasions where nothing has been available in or outside the borough. To deal with the issue, the Premier Inn and other hotels have been used.
Cabinet member for housing, Cllr John Wright
The current average cost to the council of three households living in temporary accommodation over 52 weeks, is £27,500.
It believes that by having its own building, within time, it will be making savings of almost £19,000.
Should it no longer be required, the plan is to either rent the property out at £650 per month or sell it on the open market.
Cllr John Wright, cabinet member for housing, has welcomed the decision. He said: “Obviously I’m pleased it has gone through.
“The housing team work hard to prevent homelessness in Swale, however, the need for emergency accommodation continues to increase as more households are presenting as homeless.
“Now we can look for a suitable property that would alleviate some of the problems we have had in sending families to other districts so people can be near their loved ones and family networks.”
Labour leader Cllr Mike Haywood
Eligible people, who are homeless and in priority need, include families with children or who are pregnant, care leavers and those that may be vulnerable due to old age, poor health and those fleeing domestic violence.
The opposition Labour group believes the decision will do little to address the problem. Leader Cllr Mike Haywood said: “We’ve come full circle. The Tory’s decision to buy a building is more about making a capital investment.
“It will do little to tackle the cost of housing crisis and increase in homeless families that we are seeing.
“It won’t stop local families being forced to live in temporary accommodation, or offer refuge to the 200 households hit by the bedroom tax that have tried and failed to downsize.
“In fact, it takes us back where we started more than 10 years ago. Then we had a housing aid and advice charity that provided emergency accommodation for people being made homeless in Ceres Court, Murston.
“However, that charity was forced to shut its doors when this council stopped funding it. So it’s not so much a ‘u-turn’ – they come full circle.”