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TACKLING HOMELESSNESS IN BEDFORD

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At a recent executive, Labour's housing portfolio holder Chris Black announced that in Bedford for the last two wee...
At a recent executive, Labour's housing portfolio holder Chris Black announced that in Bedford for the last two weeks no homeless households were living in bed and breakfast accommodation.

For the last two years Bedford BC has had to place homeless families into bed and breakfast because of an increase in homeless applications and a shortage of emergency accommodation. At the beginning of 2003 the number in bed and breakfast reached a peak of 58 households, costing council tax payers more than £15,000 a week.

Councillor Black said: 'This major achievement has come about as a result of sustained improvements in the way we deal with homeless families. We have introduced advice to help families avoid homelessness, and have speeded up the time for assessment and moving into permanent accommodation. This has been achieved by dedicated concentrated work by housing staff at the town hall. Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association also has agreed to provide additional housing units for the homeless.'

He continued: 'I am very pleased that, after a just a year as portfolio holder for housing, I am able to announce the elimination of this major source of stress and misery for homeless families in Bedford. We have met the Labour government's target of having no families in bed and breakfast four months early, and in the process saved a lot of money for Bedford council taxpayers. We will have to continue to work hard to maintain this success, particularly over Christmas and the New Year when there are usually increases in homeless applications.'

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