A council has been awarded £6million to tackle homelessness and assist rough sleepers. 

Durham County Council will provide new accommodation and increase support for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. 

The funding has been awarded as part of the government’s Single Homeless Accommodation Programme (SHAP) to increase the supply of high-quality accommodation and support people who are either rough sleeping or at risk. 

A mix of accommodation will be provided through the project, with multiple self-contained flats plus dispersed properties. The Bishop Auckland Registry Office has been identified for use and would house a five bedroom unit for single females aged 18 to 25.

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

It is hoped the investment will eradicate rough sleeping in the region. 

During 2022-23, some 126 people were found to be rough sleeping in County Durham - 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.

Cllr James Rowlandson, cabinet member for resources, investment, and assets, said: “We are pleased to have been successful in our bid for SHAP funding. In County Durham, we are committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness and supporting people to live well and lead independent lives. This funding will help us to continue providing this support.

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“This project isn’t just aimed at providing accommodation – it includes intensive wrap-around support tailored to each individual to help them turn their lives around and regain their independence.”

A specialist external support provider will be procured through a competitive process to provide wrap-around support to those housed by the programme. Some of the accommodation will have 24-hour support every day of the year and some will have lower levels of support with regular visits by the specialist team.

All the applicants will be fully assessed, including their housing and any other relevant history, before being accommodated by the project.