Agenda and minutes

Bristol Homes and Communities Board - Thursday, 14th May, 2020 3.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Zoom Committee Meeting with Public Access via YouTube. View directions

Contact: Corrina Haskins 

Link: Watch Live Webcast

Items
No. Item

9.

Welcome, Introductions and Apologies for absence

Presented By: Chair

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

 

Apologies for absence were received from: James Durie and Cathy Provenzano (Chair of Bristol Association of Letting and Property Management Agents).

10.

Public Forum

Please note that only written statements or questions can be considered at this meeting.

Presented By: Chair

Minutes:

A question was submitted by Acorn.

 

On behalf of Acorn, Tom Renhard set the context for the question:

  • Acorn had been supporting communities in dealing with the impact of the Covid 19 crisis;
  • There was a need for better support for people renting and Acorn were asking for:
    • an end to Section 21;
    • a rent waiver for the duration of the crisis;
    • Prevention of eviction extended to lodgers;
  • It was important for the Council to take a strong stand;
  • Accountability and transparency were essential;
  • Council and Housing Associations should continue to minimise evictions once the protection was lifted;
  • A message should be sent to private landlords asking that evictions be minimised in recognition of the exceptional circumstances.

 

Question:

“In order to protect tenants and mortgage holders from eviction and debt during the COVID-19 outbreak, ACORN calls on Mayor Marvin Rees, Cabinet member with responsibility for housing Paul Smith, and Bristol City Council to:

• Recognise the exceptional circumstances most tenants are in, and the exceptional measures needed to address the threat of mass evictions and debt once the government suspension of evictions is lifted;

• Support and publicise ACORN’s national campaign to protect renters and mortgage holders during the Coronavirus crisis: http://chng.it/NTrM8JYJtH

• Write to Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, urging him to implement the demands in the above petition;

• Write to all private and social landlords in Bristol, urging them in the strongest possible terms not to evict tenants (particularly after the government protections end), and to offer rent waivers and reductions to ensure this.

Will you commit to these actions?”

Councillor Smith gave a verbal response as follows and undertook to organise a formal written response to Acorn:

 

  • The Council did not want to see people made homeless or evicted as a result of this crisis or under any circumstances;
  • The Council had a social duty, as well as specific legal duty, to prevent homelessness and worked with tenants and landlords to prevent evictions;
  • He supported an end to Section 21, but also wished to see significant changes to Section 8 (which allowed landlord to evict tenants for arrears);
  • He also supported a review of the housing benefit system as, in terms of rent arrears, this could benefit more people than a waiver for people affected by Covid 19;
  • He supported what Acorn were trying to do in relation to a freeze on mortgages and interest payments, but this was outside the remit of the Council;
  • In relation to the point about lodgers, he suggested this needed further thought as changing the legal relationship between the lodger and the host could have a detrimental impact on lodging opportunities;
  • He undertook to contact the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on the points the Council supported.

 

11.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Presented By: Chair

Minutes:

In relation to the discussion at the previous meeting about the importance of a co-ordinated approach in relation to tackling homelessness, Members noted that the Covid 19 crisis had resulted in different groups working together to tackle the issue.

 

RESOLVED – that the minutes of the 16 January 2020 were agreed as a correct record.

 

12.

Covid-19/Lockdown Recovery in relation to Housing Issues pdf icon PDF 53 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

  1. Presentation by Paul Sylvester – Homelessness and Rough Sleeping: let’s not return to normal

 

In introducing his presentation, PS confirmed that there had been a citywide approach to providing a temporary shelter for rough sleepers/homeless.  He asked Board Member to consider what support could be offered by their organisations to ensure that people did not return to living on the streets and the provision of sustainable move on accommodation.

 

  • Situation before Covid:
    • 120 people sleeping rough;
    • 140 people in night shelters;
    • 600 + households in temporary accommodation;
    • 1100 + in hostels and other supported housing;
    • 13,000 households on the waiting list;
    • Social lettings reducing year on year;
    • Private renting sector difficult to access;
    • Gaps in support in terms of health provision and funding.

 

  • Current situation:
    • 280 people in hotels or similar;
    • Interim housing for people with no recourse to public funds;
    • Continued flow of people onto the streets and close working between Bristol City Council and St Mungo’s to meet the needs of these people;
    • Moving home temporarily suspended (until 13 May)
    • Increase in Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates returned to 30th percentile = £100 increase;
    • Project governance – support from Senior Management at Bristol City Council, Jacqui Jensen, Julian Higson and Hugh Evans.

 

  • Opportunities:
    • Looking at Housing Associations/private landlords providing move on accommodation;
    • Property acquisition through different funding initiatives;
    • Buying properties on stalled new developments;
    • Ambitious new build programme to provide affordable housing;
    • Bristol Housing Festival and modular accommodation.

 

  • Support needed for people to sustain their tenancy:
    • Alcohol and drugs;
    • Mental health;
    • Jobs and training.

 

  • Immediate response and sustained change:

·         Focus on moving people on from hotels;

·         Assessment of needs;

·         Move on plans – interim, supported, affordable, bespoke;

·         Extending access to some hotel accommodation;

·         Campaign to increase supply of affordable Private Rented Sector;

·         Joint work across homelessness sector – organisations were working together;

·         Targeted letting of Social Housing.

 

Councillor Smith asked the different sectors to comment:

 

Voluntary Sector:

  • The voluntary sector welcomed the project and the proposal for move on accommodation and was well placed to provide the support needed;
  • Access to accommodation and getting people into the right accommodation was key to preventing people returning to the streets.
  • Welcomed the support from senior leadership at Bristol City Council and joint working across sectors;
  • There was a need to build homeless prevention into the project;
  • In terms of the “ask” from Bristol Homes and Communities Board – how many households were in hotels with no recourse to public funds? There was a need for a creative response to this and a call to the wider city to help. 

PS responded that there were approximately 50 households, 10 asylum seekers and 40 European nationals that were not working.  The latter group was being supported to get into work, but it was more challenging in relation to asylum seekers.

 

Disability Equality Forum

  • Could people on the housing register looking for somewhere accessible be prioritised as this could free up accommodation elsewhere to meet the needs of people leaving temporary accommodation?  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Date of Next Meeting

Minutes:

Board Members noted that the date of the next meeting was Thursday 25th June at 3pm and items on the agenda included climate change and fuel poverty.

 

14.

Any Other Business

Minutes:

David Ader asked Board Members to contact him if they were interested in getting involved in the work of the One City Economy Board in relation to an economic recovery strategy.