A vacant building in Worthing could be transformed into a 37-bed short-stay accommodation unit for homeless people.
Roffey Homes has offered Worthing Churches Homeless Projects the temporary use of the building in Lyndhurst Road, formerly used as NHS offices and nurses’ accommodation, for a period of up to five years for free.
The application will be considered by Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee tomorrow (Wednesday, January 10).
According to the application, the project would reduce the number of people sleeping rough due to a lack of housing and reduce pressure and cost on the council for emergency accommodation.
The project will be temporary, as Roffey Homes hope to redevelop the site for thirty flats at some point within five years.
John Holmstrom, Chief Executive of Worthing Churches Homeless Projects, said the charity was grateful for ‘this generous opportunity’.
“There is a desperate shortage of short stay accommodation in Worthing,” he said.
“This is putting severe pressure on council temporary accommodation and causing long waits to access our over full hostels.
“22 Lyndhurst Road will not only relieve pressure for up to five years, but it will give us the breathing space to develop the long term provision the town so sorely needs to reduce its homelessness.”
A total of 37 rooms in 7 self-contained maisonettes would be provided for local residents with an assessed need for housing.
The accommodation would have a staff controlled central entrance and a minimum of two staff on duty 24/7 in order to ensure it is fully safe and well managed, according to the application.
There would also be offices for use by staff from Worthing Churches Homeless Projects.
Ben Cheal, managing director at Roffey Homes, said: “The directors of Roffey Homes have supported Worthing Churches Homeless Projects since their conception and saw this as an opportunity to continue our support to them and also the wider town issue of emergency accommodation provision.
“We hope that our support will aid Worthing Churches Homeless Projects and others in their quest to stop homelessness in the town.”
In a supporting statement on the planning application, a spokesman from Worthing Churches Homeless Projects said: “This is a unique opportunity.
“Worthing Churches Homeless Projects and the Council are not aware of any other suitable building available to use, especially on the very generous terms offered by Roffey Homes.”
Explaining the key causes of homelessness, the spokesman said: “The main reason people lose their accommodation is due to a change in circumstances such as redundancy, breakdown in relationships, termination of private lets and health breakdowns.
“A lack of social housing and very high demand for private rented housing makes it easy for people to fall through the net if they do not have family with spare accommodation.
“Private rented housing has become out of reach for most local people on a low income as Local Housing Allowance levels fail to keep pace with rising rents.”
The spokesman said the pressure on the council was set to increase from April 2018 with the introduction of the Homeless Reduction Act.
While under current legislation, the council is only required to accommodate people considered sufficiently vulnerable to be deemed priority need, the new legislation imposes a new duty on the council to prevent and help to secure accommodation for non-priority need people.
The planning committee will meet at 6.30pm tomorrow at the Gordon Room in Worthing Town Hall.