City Council set to save hostels

Press Release: 19/02/2016

Winchester City Council is set to step in to save two homeless hostels that were at risk of closure.

Milford House and Gordon Watson House in Christchurch Road, Winchester, have been managed by First Wessex as a supported housing project providing 35 beds for those moving on from local emergency homelessness provision or requiring support to live independently.

The potential for closure followed cuts to funding support from Hampshire County Council.

Purchase by the City Council is subject to contract and approval of the Council on Thursday 25 February.

Efforts were made to find other housing providers willing to purchase the property but, following detailed investigations by two registered providers, it was not possible for them to agree terms acceptable to First Wessex.

If the deal is agreed a further report will be submitted to the Cabinet (Housing) Committee in March 2016 to approve the management arrangements for the property.

Cllr Caroline Horrill, the City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “This project has for many years provided very positive support to the City Council’s Supported Housing Panel and has been a key contributor to addressing homelessness in the city.

Loss of the Milford House/Gordon Watson project would result in an increase of vulnerable adults presenting themselves to the Council for assistance to prevent homelessness and would result in other projects losing potential ‘move on’ accommodation, an essential element of assisting residents in being able to sustain a long-term tenancy.

In its role as a housing provider, the City Council is well-placed to purchase the property and take over the management of the project as it already successfully manages its own temporary accommodation of 49 units across the Winchester district for local homeless households.