EMPTY houses could soon be refurbished to provide homes fit for heroes – and help solve the growing problem of homeless veterans.
Armed forces charity The Veterans’ Association UK set up its head office in Burnley last year, and has since been working round the clock to help ex-servicemen and women overcome problems on re-entering “civvy street”.
One of those is homelessnes – prompting the charity’s Tony Hayes to approach Burnley Council for help.
He said: “The council has agreed to approach landlords in the Trinity area in the streets that were originally included as part of the Elevate regeneration, and ask them to refurbish these houses for veterans who have found themselves in hostels or even homeless.
“The North-West is the biggest recruiting area for our Armed Forces. In April, there are expected to be 7,500 redundancies, of which a sizeable proportion will come from this area.”
Trinity ward Coun. Tony Martin, who is also an outreach worker for the Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale Council for Voluntary Service, said the plan would solve a number of problems.
He said: “Landlords in Trinity do not currently want to refurbish their properties because unsuitable tenants have trashed them in the past.
“The idea is for the VAUK to provide responsible veterans as tenants. We have also suggested they ‘buddy’ up with perhaps two veterans sharing a house which will in turn get round the proposed ‘bedroom tax’ coming in April.
“In the future, these veterans could even work as street pastors and hopefully will make a positive contribution to what are currently some problem areas.”
Coun. Howard Baker is now set to meet landlords to discuss who would be willing to enter the scheme.