A MUM-OF-TWO has launched a petition calling for empty buildings in Tendring to be turned into safehouses for the homeless.

Jasmin Harris, from Holland-on-Sea, wants to help those who are sleeping rough or are at risk of being made homeless in the district. 

Her petition specifically calls on council bosses to explore converting disused buildings into properties for those who are having to sleep on the streets. 

Gazette readers have voiced their opinions about Mrs Harris’ petition on social media, with many of them welcoming the idea of helping those in need, especially now, as the weather has turned cold. 

One reader wrote: “It’s a brilliant idea to help those sleeping rough and get them off the streets as soon as possible.” 

Another user pointed out their disappointment with how temporary solutions were found during the pandemic, but not since.

“For the large part it’s simply a matter of political will," they said.

"They managed it almost overnight during Covid when they thought the homeless would spread it.” 

Yet, especially when it comes to covering the costs of this type of project, other readers had a more critical view. 

“Many people say great idea until they have to pay for it," one said.

"Converting derelict buildings into habitable spaces then maintaining them  will cost tens of millions." 

Another reader added: “While I don’t disagree it’s more complicated than just providing somewhere for the homeless.

"Unfortunately, mental health, drinking and drugs are usually involved and the ramifications from that need to be dealt with when providing any sort of refuge for the homeless.

"Staff are needed to ensure violence and crime doesn’t happen.” 

Councillor Andy Baker, Tendring Council cabinet member for Housing and Planning, said bringing derelict and empty homes back into use was a key plank of the authority’s Housing Strategy. 

“I’d like to thank Mrs Harris for her work in raising the plight of those who face homelessness, and reassure her it is an issue we take extremely seriously,” Mr Baker said. 

“We are already taking some steps as she suggests; for example, converting our own empty building at Spendells House into temporary accommodation for exactly this purpose, and work is well underway on this project. 

“Full council also recently approved an increase in council tax premiums on empty and second homes, to encourage landlords and property owners to bring those buildings back onto the market. We do, however, have limited means to buy up and convert empty properties which are privately owned. 

“In the short-term, we use several other providers to give emergency accommodation to those in need; to clarify, we do not issue tents or sleeping bags, and if someone is accepted on a referral to the Colchester night shelter (CENS) and do not have means to travel there then a travel warrant is provided.” 

A council spokesman also added that Tendring Council is not giving out tents, but there are organisations, what would.