Shrewsbury Ark goes outreach to tackle rough sleeping but let’s not forget the hidden homeless

On a recent night, I was contacted on Facebook about a 16-year old sleeping rough on the streets of Shrewsbury. This young woman was vulnerable and needed safeguarding. I advised my Facebook contact to take the youngster to Shrewsbury Ark, a drop in centre for the homeless and vulnerable. Once there, she was re-engaged with the support network from Shropshire Council that had been trying to help her. She is now in a hostel and I hope that she gets the help she needs.

This youngster had dropped through the system. It is very hard to engage with council officials and family, and even with friends, when your life has plummeted into the crisis that is homeless. That’s why the help given by the Shrewsbury Ark is so important.

Now, the Shrewsbury Ark is going to do a lot more to help rough sleepers.

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Eleven new long term empty homes every month – Shropshire Council is failing people who need decent homes

This is an update on my post last week on Shropshire Council’s appalling record on reducing the number of empty homes into use. The stark statistic is that we are getting an extra eleven long term empty homes every month across Shropshire. That’s appalling when people are crying out for decent homes to live in. It is disgraceful that we are building new housing on unpopular sites when there are now 1,615 long term empty homes across Shropshire.

Across the rest of England, the number of empty homes is decreasing. Shropshire is one of the few local authorities bucking the trend by allowing homes to remain empty at a time of growing housing need.

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Shropshire is falling behind on bringing empty homes into use, denying hundreds of people a decent home

Questions will be asked at a Shropshire Council meeting this Thursday to try to find to why this county has such a poor record on bringing empty homes back into use.

If Shropshire Council had kept up with the national trend on reducing empty homes, we would have another 770 homes available in the county right now. If it had just kept up with reducing the number of homes that have been empty for more than six months, then we would have an extra 323 homes in occupation.

Why is this? The main problem in this county has been a lack of investment. Shropshire Council is now investing less than ever and denying itself future income.

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Affordable housebuilding in Shropshire is set to shudder to a halt – and there is not much we can do about it

In the last few weeks, the courts and parliament have delivered crippling blows to affordable housing. These setbacks come on the back of a continued reduction in government funding for affordable housing.

On 11 May, the appeal court backed a government edict that frees small developments from any obligation to provide or contribute to affordable housing. The following day, the Housing and Planning Act gained royal assent. Under the Act, starter homes – houses sold at a 20% discount to market price – will be given priority ahead of affordable housing. Put these together with cuts to grants for affordable housing and the supply of new affordable housing in this county looks like it will dry up.

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Planning permission sought to help young people through landmark expansion of Ludlow’s Foyer

Shropshire Housing Group has applied for planning permission to extend Ludlow’s Foyer (16/00761/FUL). The plans involve demolishing Harvest House and building a new wing to the existing Marston’s Mill building. The extension will be clad in weathered copper shingles. A new reception area will be built on the railway side between the two wings.

Marston’s Mill is home to Ludlow Foyer, a housing project that provides accommodation for up to 15 young people young people aged 16-25. To reside in the Foyer, young people need to commit to training, education and employment. The new building will provide 11 additional residential units.

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