£175,000 boost to help tackle homelessness in Ashford linked specifically to COVID-19Published: 14/09/2021
Ashford Borough Council has moved quickly to take advantage of a grant of £175,000 to support tackling rent arrears and adverse financial affects suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council is using the money to support the prevention of homelessness of private rented sector tenants, with a clear focus on those households who have been adversely financially affected as a result of the pandemic. There is strict criteria relating to how the money can be spent to ensure it is only used for this purpose.
How the funding will be used
Other forms of tenure will also be considered for support, including social housing and owner occupiers, to enhance the existing help and processes that are in place for these households. The funding benefits include:
- It will enable Ashford Borough Council to boost the support for private rented sector tenants to financially recover from impact of the pandemic and prevent them losing their homes
- Support landlords in recovering from the loss of rental payments received where the tenants have fallen into rent arrears; and
- Support the containment of COVID-19 outbreaks by supporting households to remain in their existing homes and prevent households from becoming street homeless, or resulting in insecure and transient housing arrangements.
In addition to the prevention of homelessness in Ashford, there will be the added benefit of improved communication and engagement with private rented landlords, including myth busting of what is often assumptions among private sector landlords that local housing authorities will not provide support until tenants have been evicted.
Ashford’s grant follows the Kent Housing Group (KHG) successfully securing £2.5m in a recent Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) bid to Kent County Council. Each local housing authority in the county gets £175,000 to support tackling rent arrears and adverse financial affects suffered due to the pandemic. COMF funding is time limited and will spent by 31 March 2022.
The KHG is a forum for housing organisations in Kent and Medway, made up of all 12 Kent local authorities, Medway Council, 13 housing associations, and three support providers (KSS CRC, Kent County Council and Kent Public Health). KHG also has affiliated membership with a number of organisations who have a vested interest in the housing sector across Kent and Medway.
The KHG has been running for over a decade and is responsible for the production of three countywide housing strategies, a number of countywide protocols and providing training and information sessions that benefit the membership. The sub group who led on the bid was the Kent Housing Options Group. This sub group work across the local authorities and partnership agencies to consider countywide strategic and operational issues as well as sharing good practice and undertaking joint training.
Each of the 12 district councils have received the same level of funding as a result of the successful bid by KHG.