Former Leicester student flats to house homeless struggling with substance misuse

The Zip Building in Rydal Street
-Credit: (Image: Leicester Mercury)


A former city student accommodation block will be used to house homeless people struggling with substance misuse. Leicester City Council bought the Zip Building in November last year to the tune of £5.5 million with a view to turning it into 58 council homes.

When it first announced its intention to purchase the building, around a year earlier, it said the additional homes were needed to fill the gap in its council housing created by the loss of properties through the right to buy scheme. The authority said it loses an average of 400 of its homes each year through the scheme, which allows eligible tenants to buy their council homes at a discount.

Now, the council has announced part of the building, located in Rydal Street, between Eastern Boulevard and Jarrom Street, near De Montfort University, will be used as “an 11-bed trainer housing scheme for people who have been made homeless and have lived with substance misuse or other complex needs”. Placements will be offered for up to a year to single people who would benefit from the intensive one-to-one support the accommodation will provide, the council added.

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Residents in the building will also be offered training to build their confidence and develop independent living skills before moving into their own tenancies. The local authority also hopes to be able to offer them educational and employment training to help them get back into the workplace.

Alongside this, Leicester City Council has also created a new team of housing support workers who will work with those who face homelessness because of problems relating to drugs and alcohol. The authority has secured around £230,000 from the Government to create the service.

Elly Cutkelvin, deputy city mayor for housing, said: “If people lose their homes because of addictions, they can find themselves in a spiral of homelessness, rough sleeping and other problems that are extremely hard to recover from.

“This new initiative – called Help Beyond Housing - sees specialist housing support workers working closely with the Turning Point substance use treatment service and other partners to identify tenants with the most urgent and complex needs, to offer them intensive support to maintain their tenancies.

“This could be life-changing support for some people, and also reduces the call on other services such as health, homelessness services and the police."