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Housing Summit: Collaborative approach to tackle housing crisis

The Summit Panel

On 15 February, North Essex Councils (NEC), in partnership with the University of Essex and Alliance Health organisations, including the Integrated Care Board, came together for a Housing Summit. This was a landmark event that bought together industry experts to discuss the challenges and solutions to temporary accommodation and the shortage of affordable housing.

The housing crisis has seen homelessness and temporary accommodation services and budgets across north Essex stretched, but it has also galvanized partners providing these services into proactive action.

Working towards sustainable solutions

While the drivers of the housing crisis are complex, early outcomes are clear and show that collaboration and consensus among key stakeholders in the sector, particularly those dedicated towards offering housing solutions for the most vulnerable in our communities, will be vital in navigating the crisis locally.

The outcome report, due to be published later this month, will summarise the discussions held at the NEC Housing Summit and offer a range of insights and ideas for sustainable solutions aimed at helping more people into affordable and decent housing.

Housing Summit recommendations under consideration

A number of recommendations have emerged from the day which will be considered by North Essex Leaders. Amongst others, they include:

  • Agreeing to develop a north Essex procurement framework to commission and purchase temporary accommodation services and facilities, to provide best value for money.​
  • Piloting a north Essex health and housing project to support vulnerable homeless into settled accommodation.
  • Commissioning a feasibility study with a view to creating a north Essex housing prevention service.
  • Investigating the setup of a north Essex working group (or using an existing group) to deliver better use of housing and homelessness data and evidence across north Essex. ​

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Chair of North Essex Councils, said:

“The Housing Summit report provides us, as North Essex Councils, with the next steps to take to tackle the housing crisis locally. We want to keep up the momentum and have already met as Chief Executives and Leaders and are starting to move these actions forward, together.

“Alongside this work, we will continue to work with housing partners, organisations and our invaluable community housing providers and housing and homelessness community organisations to deliver a responsive and extensive response to the crisis.

“There is much more work to be done but we are taking important steps forward.”

Cllr Chris Whitbread, Chair of North Essex Councils

Dr Emily Murray from the Centre for Coastal Communities at the University of Essex said:

“It was fantastic so many people were at the Housing Summit to tackle such a pressing issue. The statistics on the number of people, especially children, who are becoming homeless, are staggering. I hosted the discussion on data and the consensus from both groups was that we need to use data to build a business case for housing crisis mitigations. Also, lots of data is collected by multiple agents – local government, national government and the third sector, but that resources are needed to bring this together, check quality and analyse it. The University of Essex is well positioned to lead on coordinating such an evidence base.”

Dr Emily Murray, Centre for Coastal Communities at the University of Essex

Next steps for North Essex Councils

The NEC Housing Summit outcomes report will be published later this month. The aim is to then create an action plan for addressing the housing shortage and fostering a more sustainable approach to providing homes for people that need them most in north Essex.

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Julie Weight
Julie Weight

Julie writes stories and creates videos for Chelmsford City Council. Contact her at julie.weight@chelmsford.gov.uk or on 01245 606984.