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Renting out spare rooms could help stem homelessness in Norwich, say Greens

PUBLISHED: 15:54 16 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:06 16 March 2018

Sandra Bogelein, Green Party city councillor for Wensum ward. Pic: Archant Library.

Sandra Bogelein, Green Party city councillor for Wensum ward. Pic: Archant Library.

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Homelessness could be tackled if more was done to encourage Norwich people, including council tenants, to rent out spare rooms, say Green councillors.

Encouraging people to rent out spare rooms could prevent homelessness, say Green city councillors. Pic: Jonathan Brady/PA WireEncouraging people to rent out spare rooms could prevent homelessness, say Green city councillors. Pic: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

There are some 4,000 people on Norwich City Council’s waiting list for a council property.

And the Green say the problem could be eased if City Hall would work with charities and private landlords to help people on low or insecure incomes or housing benefit find a room to rent.

Sandra Bogelein, Green city councillor for Wensum ward, will put forward a motion on the issue to full council next Tuesday, calling for the Labour controlled cabinet to take action.

She said: “More and more people are struggling to find a place to live, because there isn’t enough council housing and it’s very difficult for people to rent privately if they are on housing benefit or a low or insecure income.

“There are a lot of people out there who have a spare room and could benefit from the extra income from renting it out to someone on housing benefit, but maybe don’t know where to start or don’t realise how they could contribute to preventing homelessness.

“As a central hub for contacts and information, the council is in a really good position to reach people who might be interested, and support them through the process of finding a lodger.

“Ideally, we would be building more council housing and the cost of renting privately wouldn’t be so high, but in the short term we need to find creative ways to address the fact that so many people can’t find a place to live.”

She said the scheme could cover council tenants, who could avoid the bedroom tax by renting out their spare room, but stressed nobody should be obliged to take in a lodger.

She said: “This absolutely isn’t about forcing anyone to do anything. It’s about providing information and support to people, helping them find a place to live or showing them how they can help someone in need of an affordable room.”

Labour’s Gail Harris, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for social housing, said: “This is an extremely complex issue but we are open to exploring different ways that we can further use our role as provider of social housing and our links with local housing associations and charities to highlight the possibilities available.

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