Government’s Rough Sleeper Fund is helping in Bedford Borough

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Bedford Borough Council’s Housing Committee received an update on the levels of rough sleeping in the Borough at an informal meeting held on Wednesday, September 8, 2021.

Lee Phanco, chief officer for assessments applications and business support at the Council, said: “As of this morning, there are three people that have been sleeping rough in the town centre.

“One does have an offer of accommodation, but the other two are not engaging with services at the moment.

“And we still have two people living in rural areas in caravans that are not really suitable for permanent dwelling.

“They have been offered accommodation, but they are choosing to stay in their caravans.”

Since the last update to the Committee in March, Roger’s Court, Cauldwell Street in Bedford has opened. It has been converted to 20 self-contained flats.

“It was handed over [to the Council] at the beginning of August. We have 17 people living there and there are currently four vacant units”, Mr Phanco said.

He added that one unit was occupied by a couple, and offers have been made to people for the vacant flats.

“What we find sometimes is that it takes a little bit of time to get people to move in.

“Either they have been sleeping rough for a long time and making the transition is difficult.

“Or they are settled in some other accommodation that we have been able to provide, but I’m confident that in the next few weeks it will be fully occupied.”

Councillor Stephen Moon (Conservative, Great Barford Ward) asked how long people are expected to stay at Rodgers Court.

Mr Phanco answered that Rodgers Court is a non-secure tenancy,

“The expectation is that people will stay there for a maximum of two years, which is a condition of the grant funding”, he said.

“But in exceptional circumstances, people can stay for three years.”

He added that there isn’t a pressure to move people through, it’s about being able to support people until they are ready to move on.

Since the start of the pandemic, Mr Phanco said that the Council has been able to make an offer of accommodation to anybody that was sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough.

He expects this to continue, he said: “With the various accommodation options we’ve got now, plus the £120,000 in the Rough Sleeper Initiative Fund, we will be able to provide accommodation for anybody through the winter.”