Back to Press releases

Essex leads the way in housing innovation

Dimensions wins contract to provide housing brokerage to vulnerable people in Essex.

The exclusive contract with Essex County Council will combine contracts previously split between four providers.

When Essex CC set out to develop a Housing Brokerage service in 2011 it was to address significant issues in the county in identifying and securing suitable properties for people with disabilities – the county has a deficit of social rented housing along with a very competitive private rental market.

It was felt that the best approach to supporting people with disabilities to find suitable housing would be through using specialist brokers (rather than social workers) who understood how local authority housing worked and who could also develop relationships with estate agents and private landlords.

The new approach paid off, in terms of both financial and social outcomes, and, in 2014, the mental health and substance misuse teams decided to pilot similar services. By choosing to combine all three from April, the new Essex Housing Brokerage Service aims to support many more vulnerable people to build their independence and live in their own home.

The service acts as an intermediary, supporting individuals, landlords and commissioners through the entire process. We identify requirements, find suitable properties and bring both parties together offering expert guidance and reassurance at every stage, including ongoing support.

Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said:
“We are very pleased to be able to work with Dimensions to bring together the successful elements of other services, make improvements and widen their availability to support more vulnerable adults.

“Commissioners across mental health, learning disability and substance misuse have worked together to bring forward a service that will help provide safe accommodation for people who may have multiple disadvantages and are often deemed ‘Hard to Place’.

“We will work with Dimensions to develop a service that is focused on delivering real outcomes.”

Eric Hardman, Housing Director at Dimensions, added:
“Dimensions combines deep expertise in housing brokerage with leading edge practice in supporting people with learning disabilities and others so we are well positioned to make a success of this new programme.

“At this point in time, we are not aware of a similar service in the country where such close co-operation to identify suitable housing for vulnerable people in both the social and private rented sector is in place. We look forward to publishing the results – watch this space.”