Many of us can only imagine what being without a secure home feels like, or how losing our home would affect our lives.
For others, high rents and high living costs have put having a secure home beyond their reach.
We know that there is a very high demand for affordable housing in our borough.
Dacorum Borough Council’s housing strategy from this year through to 2018 commits us to creating 150 new affordable homes each year to help meet this demand through building our own new houses and working with local housing associations.
We’re already exceeding our target and are set to achieve 1,000 affordable homes over the next five years.
I am also very pleased that we have been able to agree that all new Dacorum Borough Council homes will be let at social rent levels, rather than the higher ‘affordable’ rents.
However, homelessness is about more than just housing. It cuts across all social, economic, ethnic and racial lines.
Many circumstances make it difficult for people to make rent or mortgage payments.
These include losing your job, domestic violence, partners and families breaking up, long-term physical or mental illness, being released from prison or leaving the armed forces.
Homelessness has been increasing locally, as it is nationally, which is why the new Homelessness Strategy 2013-2018 we’re currently drafting is so important.
A big part of this will involve working with partners such as DENS and Druglink to prevent homelessness in the first place through debt and budgeting advice, family and landlord mediation, welfare and support, and training for new tenants.
Together we are committed to supporting households who are re-housed to reduce the risks of repeat homelessness.
Over the last year, the most common cause for us having to re-house someone was because they lost their private rented accommodation.
Anecdotally, we hear that many landlords are choosing to sell properties or want to attract new tenants on higher rents.
At the same time we need to look to the private rented sector more than ever to provide housing options for low and middle income families.
So it’s a priority to expand schemes that support households who cannot raise a deposit to access the private rented sector.
Many of you will have heard about increasing numbers on housing registers. Dacorum has well over 7,000 applicants on ours.
The reality is that with only around 500 to 600 council and housing association properties becoming available each year, most of these applicants will never access this type of housing.
Changes in our new housing allocations policy, which comes out this November, mean that some lower priority households and those without a local connection will be taken off the main register. Instead we’ll give them help and information about other options available.
If you’re struggling to find a secure home or worried about losing your home, please call 01442 228000 and staff will be able to arrange a housing advice appointment.
Councillor Andrew Williams is leader of Dacorum Borough Council. Email him on firstname.lastname@example.org