Repurposing Obsolete Sheltered Housing

Client: Local Authority

Timeframe: 2 years

Project Brief:

Over several months I led a strategic review of older and vulnerable people’s housing. I set up a project group to guide it, including colleagues from the local authority’s housing, adult social care and children’s services. This joint approach began to find connections between previously unconnected problems facing the council:

  • an oversupply of obsolescent sheltered housing accommodation
  • lack of HRA capital to significantly address the majority of schemes with problems
  • drastic shortages of specialist accommodation elsewhere within the council, including:
  • people with mental health issues needing independent supported housing
  • young people in the care system ready to take a first step towards independent living
  • homeless households placed in expensive private accommodation pending decision/offer.

To cut a complex 2-year story short, my initiatives enabled two obsolete sheltered schemes eventually to gain approval and access to funding to be repurposed: one as temporary homeless accommodation, another as supported housing for young people in the care system.

Delivery:

Keys to delivery of two successful schemes turned out to be:

  • bridging culture barriers between services, learning each other’s’ ‘languages’, understanding goals and constraints
  • developing sound business case (especially finance and risk) and ensuring elected member support
  • maintaining drive and focus in the face of distractions and competing priorities
  • good resident and community engagement.

By the time of my departure, the homeless temporary accommodation scheme had just opened on a pilot basis, while resident consultation was being completed with a view to making the new scheme permanent. Members had also approved the young people’s supported scheme proposal subject to community consultation, then ongoing.

Savings:  the homeless temporary accommodation scheme was projected to bring in additional income to the HRA in region of £180k a year, with expected savings to the General Fund through reduced placement costs in the region of £230k a year. The proposed young people’s accommodation was indicatively projected to bring in additional income to HRA in the region of £100k a year, with net savings to the General Fund expected to be around £140k a year.