HEREFORDSHIRE Council will buy and refurbish homes to house rough sleepers in Hereford.

The county council says up to 120 families were placed into temporary accommodation during the pandemic.

They have managed to find long term housing for 46 families since then but want to do more.

Cabinet has accepted a £420,000 government grant to help buy up to eight properties in the city.

And the council have set a side a budget of £1.12m to buy eight homes and refurbish 4 & 5 Blackfriars Street within a budget of £500,000.

They say this will allow them to protect and accommodate those currently in Covid-19 emergency accommodation from future homelessness.

Housing, regulatory services, and community safety cabinet member Ange Tyler she said it has been a council priority to support the most vulnerable people in Herefordshire since the start of the pandemic.

“So, all street homeless people were identified and housed in temporary accommodation,” she said.

“At that point up to 120 families were being accommodated at any one time.

“There were 46 households have been housed permanently but there are approximately 90 households in temporary accommodation at this moment.

“The ongoing revenue burden for the council is approximately £15,000 to £20,000 per week.

“I’m really pleased to say Herefordshire Council was successful with bids made.

“I can’t thank our officers enough for doing this. This has been really helpful in looking after our homeless as we’ve gone through the pandemic.

“So I’m asking cabinet to accept the award of £420,000.

“This will enable the council as part of the Covid-19 emergency response to accommodate those who have along or repeated history of rough sleeping.

“Capital will be used to assist the purchase of eight properties.”

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Health and adult wellbeing cabinet member Pauline Crockett said she fully supported the proposals and said it was in line with their homelessness prevention strategy.

“This money has been given to su from government and we need to get on with this and get it started with before the end of March.”

Commissioning, procurement and assets cabinet member Gemma Davies said she also fully supported the proposals.

“Absolutely well done to officers for managing to get these grants.

“I really do approve of this because it is making use of the assets we already own.”

Council leader David Hitchiner said it was a substantial amount of money to spend and asked for reassurance.

Council officers said the funds will go towards converting the Blackfriars Street properties into four flats and put an extension or pod either side of it.

“It will be six properties in total which comes to about £83,000 per property,” strategic housing manager  Hayley Crane said.

“£500,000 is worst case scenario. We will go to tender and we believe we can bring the costs in.

“But because number 5 is in such a bad state of repair we are not sure what we are going to unearth.”

Cabinet unanimously approved the proposals.