Lichfield District Council could spend £750,000 on buying properties to house Syrian refugees, according to a new report.
The option is one of four due to be discussed by the local authority’s Cabinet at a meeting next week.
The council has agreed to to join efforts to offer a home for those fleeing the conflict in their homeland as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to take in 20,000 Syrians.
As well as the option to purchase five homes specifically for the five families, the council is also considering:
- Using the current homelessness system to allocate properties.
- Working with social housing providers to identify properties.
- Working with private landlords to house the families.
A report by Cllr Colin Greatorex, Cabinet member for housing, indicated that none of the private landlords contacted so far said they would be willing to take in refugee families – and warned that other options could also raise concerns about fairness from those currently waiting for housing in Lichfield and Burntwood.
But he said the council would need to consider all solutions.
“The role of the District Council is to identify suitable accommodation for for the refugees,” Cllr Greatorex said. “Refugees will be classed as homeless when they arrive in the UK and would meet the criteria to be assessed as statutorily homeless, where the council would have a duty to provide accommodation.
“The refugees will arrive with ‘refugee status’, which means they will be eligible for housing, benefits, education and health care.
“They will also be eligible to find work and access welfare benefits.”
The first 12 months of resettlement costs will be fully funded by the Government, while a further pot of money has been pledged to contribute towards costs beyond then.
But Cllr Greatorex’s report admits the solution of how to house the families is not a simple one.
“Identifying a preferred option at this time is difficult as there are still many uncertainties about ho the scheme will operate and the timescale in which the accommodation will be required to be provided.
“The provision of accommodation for refugees is a sensitive issue which could cause unrest within the local community.”