The Acres to open in the Spring to help homeless

The Acres is nearing completion. SGD26125.
The Acres is nearing completion. SGD26125.

The new homeless hostel in Stornoway is due to be completed in March meaning the council will be less reliant on B&B accommodation.

The new facility will be called ‘The Acres’ in reference to the area of the town and the site of the former Acres Pitch where it is built.

In the period April to September this year, the total number of homeless applicants has actually decreased by more than 20 per cent compared to the same period last year, however, it is stressed that homelessness remains a problem with the local authority relying heavily on B&B accommodation for homeless households with just 51 operational homeless units currently across the Western Isles.

In a report presented to councillors recently, it was highlighted that 26 homeless households were currently in B&B accommodation at the time of writing.

The Comhairle is also due to review its existing provision of temporary accommodation with the addition of the new centre in particular the use of the Old House unit on Lewis Street.

Initial findings suggest that there will still be a need to use the Old House and it could be used for a specific client group or possibly in the longer term to provide supported accommodation in partnership with other agencies.

The report stated: “Homelessness continues to be a problem in the Western Isles, and, although the housing options approach is reducing the numbers presenting as homeless, the impact of the phasing out of priority need has negated any impact on the numbers entitled to an offer of permanent accommodation.

“The phasing out of priority need will have ongoing implications for Hebridean Housing Partnership’s general waiting list and the Comhairle’s supply of temporary accommodation.

“Although there has been no apparent immediate effect as a consequence of Welfare Reform, it is anticipated that changes to Housing Benefit, and continuing financial pressures on many households will increase demand for the Service as a whole.”