Chelmsford landlords with available properties are being called to offer homes for rent for Afghan refugees.
In August, Chelmsford and Colchester each welcomed around 30 adults and children, mostly interpreters who served with British Forces and their families. They were housed in hotels and many are still there, due to the lack of available housing.
Councils across Essex set up donation points, which were quickly overwhelmed with donations, and called for landlords with suitable properties to come forward. So far, a few families have been found homes in Chelmsford, but many families who arrived in August still need housing.
The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is growing. Women and girls in public life, religious and other minorities, and others who helped British troops, are at risk of violence, capture and death following the Taliban takeover in summer. Food is short and health services are collapsing.
The UK has promised to resettle around 5,000 Afghan nationals at risk in 2021, its share of the millions being offered asylum across the globe. With more likely to arrive, additional homes are still needed.
A humanitarian crisis
Councillor Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council, hopes that Chelmsford residents can help out. He said, “It’s the nature of news stories that they make a big splash, and we are all concerned for a brief moment. Then they are replaced by the next big story. But this isn’t just a one-day news story; it’s an ongoing, humanitarian crisis.
“Many of those coming from Afghanistan are people who risked their lives to help British troops. They have not gone away and their suffering hasn’t stopped. Families are still arriving, having gone through terrible losses and fear, and the local landlords who have come forward already have made all the difference to some of them in giving them a safe, suitable place to live in.
“So if anyone owns a home – anywhere in the country – that they would be willing to rent out, please let the City Council know.”
What kind of property is suitable for refugees?
Properties must be:
- fully self-contained, with their own front door, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and living rooms
- available to rent for at least 12 months
- close to local amenities like shops, schools and public transport
- two, three or four bedrooms (there may be a small number of refugees needing one-bed homes)
- rentable at a cost at, or very close to, the Local Housing Allowance
- compliant with legal accommodation standards – it will be inspected to check
Will I be donating my house for free?
No. Landlords will be paid rent at or close to the Local Housing Allowance. There may be some financial assistance for landlords to help meet the cost of suitable homes being held empty. There may also be help to bridge some of the gap between the cost of rent and Local Housing Allowance.
How can I offer my house for Afghan refugees?
If you would like to be part of the scheme, please read the FAQs on the council’s website and contact their housing team using the details on the page.