Council awarded £3.2 million for new homeless support service and accommodation in Northampton

West Northamptonshire Council have purchased Broadmead Court, in Northampton, to increase housing support for rough sleepers.
-Credit: (Image: Google)

A Northamptonshire council has been awarded £3.2m to deliver accommodation and a high needs support programme for people with a history of rough sleeping in Northampton.

The homeless support centre will be in the council's newly-acquired Broadmead Court, on St Albans Road. The block of flats was already being used to accommodate people with complex needs through charity Changing Lives, but was purchased by West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) earlier this year.

The government grant will go towards the cost of buying the property and refurbishing the 18 flats. Just under £1.5m will also be used to seek a provider to deliver a Multiple Complex and High Needs Support service. WNC initially bid for the Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme (SHAP) funding in late 2023, around the same time that enquiries were first made about purchasing Broadmead Court.

Cllr Adam Brown confirmed at the cabinet meeting that "every single resident" of Broadmead Court, prior to the council's possession of the building, was found a place to live.

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The proposed commissioned service will focus on preventing and reducing homelessness by delivering support and equipping people with the necessary tools to enable them to move on to sustainable and independent living.

This is the only accommodation of its kind in the area, with Oasis House, Northampton, providing accommodation and support for 58 people who are at risk of rough sleeping with low to medium needs.

Cllr Rosie Herring, cabinet member for housing, said: "This service will effectively provide a wraparound service which not only addresses homelessness prevention but also aims to improve individuals’ wider personal circumstances and quality of life.

"To achieve this, we want to work with stakeholders and people with a lived experience of homelessness and rough sleeping to co-produce a service that meets the existing and future needs of users."

'The tip of an iceberg'

Cllr Sally Beardsworth said she was "concerned" that the project might present an "uphill struggle" of reintegrating rough sleepers back into independent living. She referred to existing residents at Oasis House who were supposed to "move in, get help, stay there for six months and then move on".

She continued: "That hasn’t happened- people have been there up to three years. It hasn’t done the job that it was supposed to do, which was to enable people to live a better life, get over their addictions and move on and become housed.

"I’m a little bit sceptical because I really have concerns that unless we get the right people in there you’re going find an uphill struggle."

Cllr Jonathan Harris also raised concerns that he was recently made aware of a rough sleeper in his village, Brixworth, which is the first time he has known of one in his 28 years living there. He questioned if it was "the tip of an iceberg" of a wider homelessness issue in the county.

Cllr Herring told the cabinet that the problem was to "unlock the system the whole way down the chain" and that the housing team were pursuing other avenues to get the system "moving better" and free up places to move people onto when they have recovered.

The service is anticipated to commence in Autumn 2025, following the council's commissioning process which was approved by WNC's cabinet on Tuesday, July 9.

The service provider for Broadmead Court is expected to be awarded a three-year contract. Engagement will take place in July and August 2024 with both internal and external stakeholders to inform the service specifications and requirements.