A multi-million pound bid to help provide accommodation and support to assist rough sleepers will be submitted. 

Durham County Council has set out plans to provide an additional 32 bed spaces in the region alongside support to help people manage and maintain a tenancy.

The projected cost of the scheme is around £4.6 million, with £2.7 million coming from the government’s Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme (SHAP). The remaining cash is being funded from the council’s ongoing rental income. 

James Rowlandson, member for resources, investment and assets, said it is hoped the project will reduce the levels of rough sleeping in the county. 

“The strategy aims to prevent rough sleeping wherever possible, and where it does occur, ensure that it is rare, brief and non recurrent,” he told a cabinet meeting. 

“During 2022-23, around 126 people were found to be rough sleeping - an average of 11 in a single night. Forty two per cent of these were new to rough sleeping and the remaining had previous experience on the streets. Across the North East, there was a 27 per cent rise in rough sleeping in 2022-23.”

The meeting heard the new sites will reduce the use of temporary accommodation. 

The Northern Echo: The Bishop Auckland Registry Office has been identified for useThe Bishop Auckland Registry Office has been identified for use (Image: Google)

The Bishop Auckland Registry Office, which will be surplus to requirements in November, has been identified for use and would house a five bedroom unit for single females aged 18 to 25.

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An announcement on whether the council’s bid has been successful is expected later this month. 

Cllr Chris Hood, member for adult and health services, said the proposal will “help to take rough sleepers off our streets and help them into a better life”.

He added: “Lacking a settled home can cause or intensify social isolation, as well as creating barriers to education, training and paid work.”