A northeast council has been recognised for its housing strategy and work in tackling homelessness.

Durham County Council has been named local authority of the year at the Northern Housing Awards.

It follows its work to deliver more housing and investment in local services for communities as part of the County Durham Housing Strategy.

The strategy was adopted by the council in 2019 to meet housing needs and demands, with a specific focus on delivering high-quality new homes that meet the needs and aspirations of existing and future residents, alongside homes for older people and those with disabilities.

The authority has also worked to increase the number of affordable homes in the county by 53 percent since 2014, as well as working closely with community organisations to support opportunities for community-led housing.

It is currently in the process of establishing a council homes delivery programme that will create 500 new council-owned properties over the next five years. In addition, the council set up a County Durham Lettings Agency in the last year to assist with providing accommodation to vulnerable residents.

Its Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy for County Durham has also helped to prevent homelessness and reduce the number of rough sleepers across the county, with the council preventing almost 2,900 cases of homelessness during 2019-2020.

As part of its work to tackle homelessness, the council was also highly commended for its collaboration with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service on Project Beta. The project works with high-risk offenders for up to six months prior to their release from prison to ensure housing and support are secured.

Amy Harhoff, Durham County Council’s corporate director of regeneration, economy and growth, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for everyone involved. The team has worked tirelessly to continue to deliver frontline services and support those in need throughout the pandemic.

“They have worked with housing providers, helped to deliver regeneration and helped to reduce the number of rough sleepers across the county through the last year and beyond. There were a lot of great entries to the awards and I am delighted that our staff has been recognised for their efforts during such a challenging period.”

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