More rough sleeper beds available in York

More people sleeping rough in York can now safely bed down this winter as extra emergency beds are being offered whatever the weather until 28 February.

Earlier this year, senior councillors agreed that York should go above and beyond the national ‘severe weather scheme’. The 11 additional beds created bring the total emergency provision up to 29 beds. They are available in the winter months regardless of whether it’s freezing or not.

Besides these extra beds, the £193,000 extra funding secured for 2018/19 is also funding extra outreach workers to help rough sleepers address complex issues, especially around mental health.

Anyone found sleeping rough is encouraged to go to The Salvation Army’s new early intervention and prevention hub at 63 Lawrence Street, York YO10 3BU between 10am and 12 noon.

There, they will be allocated one of the city’s 29 emergency beds in keeping with the city’s No Second Night Out scheme. This means that no-one should have to sleep outside.

Five of the new emergency beds have been created at a council hostel and are being supported by volunteers from the YES Below Zero scheme. Rough sleepers’ dogs can also be brought into emergency accommodation – this has been the case since 2000.

People coming off the streets are placed in the city’s 101-bed supported lodgings. There, they are offered support and education to help address any of the issues that may have contributed to them becoming homeless. This includes referral to services for mental health or substance misuse and to train them for work and how to manage a tenancy.

Once that stage is successfully underway, they are allocated space in the city’s 90 independent accommodation units before, hopefully, supporting them into either private or affordable fully-independent homes.

Last year, we resettled 70 previously rough sleepers or single homeless people into permanent tenancies, and had 49 York households in our temporary accommodation – the lowest number since 2004.

£23,620 being written off in York for 4 Council tenant arrears

The York Councils Executive member with responsible for housing is being asked to write off the bad debts of 4 former Council tenants.

The amount involved is nearly £6000 each.

With average Council house rents around £300 a month, it means that these former tenants didn’t pay any rent for around 18 months.

They are unlikely to have been housing benefit cases as the rent payable in those cases is usually minimal.

The tenants apparently absconded between 2 and 5 years ago.

The identities of the tenants involved are not being disclosed. In the past “naming names” has sometimes allowed the Council to trace those who have absconded. It is not clear why the Council has changed its policy and granted anonymity in these cases.

The Council says that if it does trace the individuals concerned they will still be required to pay what they owe.

Weeds over grow path in Windsor Garth

Weeds growing through footpath on Windsor Garth near Sandown Close. We’ve reported the problem but it seems to be another area that has been missed off this years treatment programme

Time of year gullies need to eb checked fro blockages. We’ve asked for those on the little Green Lane footpath to be cleared of leaves

We’ve asked for the Gale Lane/Holgate beck to be cleared of detritus and undergrowth before the winter

UFO are behind schedule in reinstating concrete drives on Stuart Road

Verge and path on Foxwood lane still showing signs of damage following broadband excavations near 12 months ago

One bonus has been the renewal of the flagstones at the Hamilton Drive West bus stop. We asked for these to be done on safety grounds last year

New litter bins have been rolled out to several streets including this one on Kingsway West

We’ve asked for the garage area off Windsor Garth to be tidied up.

 

Homelessness prevention in York gets £251k boost

A new grant of £251,000 to help reduce homelessness in 2019/20 has been awarded to City of York Council by the government.

The money will contribute to work to create safe and supported housing options for people with complex needs who are ready to stop rough sleeping and begin to move back into mainstream housing. This will include an increased use of our making every adult matter service, known as MEAM.

It will also be used to provide early help and prevention services as outlined in our Homelessness Strategy 2018-23 launched in June this year. We’ll be providing additional outreach support and use of a targeted approach to work with rough sleepers and single homeless people – some of whom have complex needs – to help them secure and remain in accommodation.

Liberal Democrat’s call for voice of tenants to be reinstated

Liberal Democrat Councillors have called on the Council to support and restore the York Residents’ Federation, the voice for tenants and residents associations in the city, following a recent collapse of the Federation.

The York Residents’ Federation represents the interests of residents and tenants by promoting resident’s rights to be involved in developing policies on housing and other issues at the Council.

Up until this month, the Federation had operated for over 25 years, playing a huge role in providing local and detailed knowledge to Council departments and acting as a representative sounding board to be consulted on ideas and changes to Council policies.

Thanks to the effort of hard working volunteers, the Federation has made tangible changes to estates, which have ensured that residents of mixed tenures of can take pride in their own communities.

To ensure the Federation is reinstated, the Liberal Democrats have formally requested a scrutiny review to identify areas in which the Council can support greater tenant engagement.

Councillor Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Housing, commented:

Ann Reid

“The York Residents Federation has played a crucial role in ensuring resident’s aspirations are reflected in Council housing policies and therefore, we are naturally alarmed at the recent collapse of the Federation.”

“Liberal Democrats are committed to ensuring that the Federation is reinstated and that it is properly supported in representing tenants and residents.”

“I hope the scrutiny committee see the reasoning behind our request and act swiftly in identifying opportunities in which the Council can restore and strengthen tenant engagement.”

York Federation of Residents’ Associations folds

The York Federation of Residents’ Associations folded yesterday.

The decision was taken at a meeting which heard that it had been impossible to find a full slate of officers.

The decision doesn’t affect the many individual residents and tenants associations which operate successfully in many parts of the City.

It will, however, mean that a new process is required to allocate some centralised grant funding streams.

The Federation, which depended entirely on the efforts of volunteers, had struggled to deal with increasing regulatory requirements during recent months.

Some of its members had been critical of the lack of involvement on major policy changes being pursued by the Councils Housing Department.

NB. The Council has still not appointed a new contractor to carry on its “tenants choice” modernisation programmes

Council tenants in York face additional charges

Some housing repairs to attract fees

The Council says that the reason that garage 11 on Bramham Road has been boarded up for over 6 months is because if contains potentially hazardous asbestos. They have now agreed to have the garage cleared.

The Council is revising its policies on charging for housing repairs. It could mean that tenants will have to pay “upfront” for repairs although emergency attention to blocked drains, broken windows and power failures will continue to be given priority. Tenants may be charged (£145) future if they are “locked out” and call for Council assistance. Replacing a gate will cost £161 while an internal door will be charged at £79.85.

Window repairs will cost between £33.00 and £190.00 depending on size.

A new bath will cost £311.35 and an electric fire £291.27

The new policy – which can be read by clicking here  – is likely to cause some controversy. Post and wire is confirmed as the standard boundary fence. This type of fencing is unsightly and often ineffective.

The Council is, however, committing to removing asbestos when found in council homes.

Garden sheds will not be repaired by the Council.

The proposals have not been subject to consultation with tenants associations.

There is a growing list of grievances that many tenants have with the Councils housing department.

In recent months we have seen the “good tenant” scheme dropped while poor management of the Council’s garage stock is an ongoing issue. A new Housing Estate Improvement Programme process, introduced 2 years ago, has been widely criticised with delays in both agreeing and the implemention of improvements.

NB. The Council makes a profit on its housing revenue account of over £4 million each year.

New licensing scheme for homes in multiple occupation

A new law to improve the heath and safety and management of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) is coming into force on 1 October 2018. The council is offering landlords one-to-one sessions.

Landlords can call 01904 552300 Monday to Friday from 9am – 12noon to talk to officers about the new licensing requirements and how to apply.

Smaller properties must now be licensed as HMOs. All properties occupied by five or more people in two or more separate households will need licenses, irrespective of the number of storeys.

Alongside ongoing work with landlords, City of York Council has been developing a new online HMO application process to make it simpler and faster for landlords to apply for new licences and to renew existing ones. Visit www.york.gov.uk/HMOLicensing

The new law also requires that bedrooms must be a minimum size and have a maximum number of occupants to prevent overcrowding.

As the collective tenants of these properties can generate more waste than others, adequate storage space for waste must be included in a property.

Landlords are being given up to 18 months grace to comply with the new bedroom requirements and to address any overcrowding.

To manage these new licensing requirements and standards, the council is proposing a different approach to inspections.

Inspections will be triggered by information provided by landlords and will be prioritised around known risk factors including the history of landlords and higher-risk properties. Where landlords fail to comply, civil penalty fines up to £30,000 can be imposed or unlimited fines if prosecuted

To register for regular updates about the new laws, including information about free presentations please visit www.york.gov.uk/HMOLicensing

The online application process for both new and existing licences for house in multiple occupation is now live at www.york.gov.uk/HMOLicensing

Confusion over planning application for Lincoln Court modernisation

Lincoln Court

In a report to a meeting taking place next week, officials are claiming that a planning application for the upgrade of the Lincoln Court independent living home on Ascot Way, “has been submitted”.

This will come as news to the residents living in the building who are eagerly awaiting details of the final design for the modernised site and the construction timetable.

There is no such application displayed on the Councils “planning portal

So far only the demolition of the adjacent Windsor House building and subsequent construction of a centre for disabled children has reached the planning application stage. That application was submitted on 29th June.

It is a matter of some concern as residents will want to see an integrated timetable for both developments which ensures that work on the whole of the site is completed quickly.

They will also want to see the Newbury Avenue development completed before work starts on Ascot Way.

Both developments will put considerable pressure on parts of Kingsway West which offers the only access route into the area.

Kingsway West is a cul de sac and already suffers from congestion caused by poor parking provision on the area near the Ascot Way junction.

 

 

More cheap homes to buy – new scheme launched by York Council

Shared home ownership scheme

Following on from yesterdays news about a £112,500 flat being sold in Skeldergate, there is more good news for aspiring home owners in York today.

An innovative new scheme to help more people afford a home of their own in York is being launched!

City of York Council’s new shared ownership scheme invites applicants to find their own home on the open market or choose from four high quality newly-converted apartments to buy with the council.

In York, high demand and low supply has increased house prices beyond the reach of many residents. With average house prices nine times local average wages the scheme for 65 homes is run in partnership with Homes England until early 2021, to help eligible York residents get on to the property ladder.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • have a combined household income of less that £80,000 per year
  • be first time buyers, or former home owners, or military or ex military personnel
  • be unable to afford to purchase a suitable home at market value
  • not own a share of, or own any other property (unless a shared ownership home that you wish to move from)
  • Have a minimum 5% deposit and be able to cover the cost of buying a property
  • Have secured a mortgage offer.

Eligible people can choose a property from the open housing market. This must be:

  • within the price guidelines set out in an offer letter – usually for no more than £200,000
  • within the City of York boundary area
  • not a listed building or in a listed building
  • in good mortgage-able condition
  • without any previous shared ownership grant funding attached
  • priced in line with an independent valuation.

If eligible and interested, first get a mortgage offer from a lender then apply via www.helptobuy.gov.uk – run by Yorkshire Housing. Please state on your application that you wish to buy with City of York Council and your details will be passed on to us.

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