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An ambitious new strategy for helping rough sleepers stay off the streets, building new affordable homes in the borough and helping to support the growing number of people at risk of becoming homeless, has been agreed by Richmond Council.

At the Adult Social Services, Health and Housing Committee last night (16 February), Members heard how the Council has worked hard throughout the pandemic to support those hit hardest by the impact of Coronavirus.

This includes helping over 80 people off the streets throughout the year, preventing nearly 100 people from becoming homeless and launching a new £500k pilot scheme to provide support for rough sleepers with underlying issues such as substance abuse.

The new Housing and Homelessness strategy continues this support - including a new Rough Sleeper Recovery Plan, to try and ensure no one returns to the streets when lockdown eases.

Cllr Liz Jaeger, Lead Member for Housing for Richmond Council, said:

“We are committed to preventing homelessness wherever possible, by helping people remain in their homes or securing suitable accommodation. As the pandemic continues, we know that the number of people in the borough at risk of losing their homes is likely to rise. Therefore, it is important that we not only invest more money to support those most at risk, but are able to offer a comprehensive package of help that will not only result in a temporary fix, but will help identify permanent solutions for our most vulnerable in the community.”

The new strategy also looks at how the Council will deliver affordable homes in the borough and support the redevelopment of existing social housing through the Boroughs own resources including better use of the Council’s land to deliver affordable housing and Richmond affordable grant funding. Working proactively with local housing providers, private developers and the GLA, the Council also aims to support the building of 1,000 new homes over the next 10 years including delivering over 100 homes on its own land.

Cllr Jaeger, added:

“There are many challenges when it comes to delivering affordable housing in Richmond upon Thames. This includes high land prices and protected open space. At the heart of our new strategy we commit to using Council-owned sites, where we can, to increase the supply of affordable homes, and work with local housing associations and developers to encourage them to make their own land available.

“The next twelve months will see a number of projects further progressed - including the affordable housing planned for the Elleray Hall site, the new housing on Twickenham Riverside, and the RHP proposals for Ham Close.”

The strategy also outlines how the Council will ensure that available homes for those renting are also of a high standard - including a new Empty Homes pilot initiative; working with private landlords to ensure that they are utilising available funding to ensure their properties are energy efficient; and continuing to support tenants in the social-rented sector through the Tenants Champion scheme.

– from a Richmond Council press release - 17 February 2021