More than £1.7million in funding has been secured to help meet housing needs in the North East.

Durham County Council has been successful in two applications to the government that will support the development of a local lettings agency, and pay for emergency accommodation and staff to help those with a housing need.

The funding comes from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative for 2020-21.

The council has been given just over £269,000 towards its ongoing work to establish the lettings agency for County Durham. The agency will acquire five year leases on private properties across the county and use these homes for those who currently struggle to access housing.

It has also been given just under £1.5m following an application it led on behalf of eleven North East councils.

This will pay for the continuation of SSTSs (Somewhere Safe to Stay) across the region. These are sites at which up to seven days emergency accommodation is provided for those who are not eligible for temporary.

It will also continue to fund two regional coordinators, a prison housing worker, a specialist substance misuse worker and tenancy officers.

Cllr Kevin Shaw, the council’s Cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, said: “We are delighted to have been successful in these two applications for funding.

“The money for the agency will help as we begin the process of leasing properties for use by people on their own, couples and families in need.

“The regional application will fund the creation of more emergency accommodation across the North East as well as staff to help those with a housing need. We are also hopeful that it will allow a pot of money to be set aside so that services can be bought in to support complex clients.”

The agency will provide people with direct support to help them maintain their tenancies and over the longer term it will develop its own housing stock.

The other North East councils on whose behalf the regional bid was submitted are: Stockton Borough, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland Borough, Darlington Borough, Gateshead, Sunderland City, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Northumberland County.

The funding follows the council’s success in securing money through the government’s Rapid Rehousing Pathway last year, for both the lettings agency and a regionwide assessment centre split across two hubs which will give rough sleepers immediate access to SSTSs while suitable housing is identified.

In July last year, the council’s Cabinet approved the creation of housing and homelessness strategies for County Durham, following consultation with residents and other stakeholders.

Cover Photo: Cllr Shaw (fifth from right) with members of the council’s Housing Solutions team.

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