Huge temporary housing site being created to help solve town's growing homeless crisis
PUBLISHED: 08:06 23 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:47 23 February 2018
A £500,000 project will see empty space above town centre shops converted into temporary housing to help tackle King's Lynn's growing homeless crisis.
Scaffolding reaching four storeys high can be seen in Broad Street in the Vancouver Quarter, stretching from tech store CEX at the junction with Norfolk Street to the Oldsunway bridge.
West Norfolk council and Genesis housing association are working together to convert empty floors above the shops into seven one and two-bedroom self-contained apartments, which will be used as emergency housing for couples and families.
The council’s housing officer Duncan Hall said: “We know homelessness is a problem. This is particularly a new issue for this town but we are certainly doing lots of work with lots of partners to respond to this problem.”
The £500,000 project is being funded through the council’s affordable housing resource and is due to finish in early August.
It is one of a number of initiatives being run by the council as part of its new homelessness and rough sleeping strategy.
New legislation requires councils to intervene at an earlier stage to prevent people becoming homeless, as ministers attempt to tackle Britain’s rising tide of homelessness.
Although people who are in immediate need of housing, such as rough sleepers, will not benefit from this project, Mr Duncan said: “There will be different accommodation appropriate for different people, some projects will be for people in high need and some in low.
“This particular project is for couples and families who fall in the low need category, where they can stay for a number of months until they can find secure accommodation and we will work with them to do that.
“All of this work we are doing is in partnership with housing support providers Genesis, Purfleet Trust, Home Group and Benjamin Foundation - we couldn’t do any of this work without their help.”
A survey on one night in November 2017 showed nine people sleeping on the streets in Lynn, with 63 others in hostels or sofa surfing.
“Our ambition is to eradicate rough sleeping,” said Mr Hall.
“The key is extending the range of temporary accommodation and the diversity of that accommodation to reflect the reality,” Mr Hall added.