Council to create year-round homeless support hub

Pic: Thomas Quine

A charity for the homless in Croydon has welcomed a council plan to create a new initiative that will provide rough sleepers 24 hour and 365-day service to get them off the streets and into a place of their own.

The council received £622,000 from the ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to offer vulnerable homeless people a bed, wraparound support and help into settled, permanent accommodation.

But Jad Admas from Nighwatch said the larger problem of homelessness in the borough was helping people into permanent accommodation “only to find them homeless again – often multiple times”.

Adams also told Eastlondonlines: “We are very supportive of the council’s efforts to tackle street homelessness. The council takes advice from Nightwatch and other organisations working with homeless people in the borough.

“The hub initiative will certainly help the people we see who have suddenly become homeless, particularly if it is for the first time and they have no previous experience of homelessness. This can be a shattering experience. People in this sort of crisis, have had nowhere to go in the past it was always particularly difficult for people who became homeless at the weekend and would have days before they could they could access any but the most basic services.”

He added: “On the other hand, long term so-called ‘entrenched’ homelessness is of a different order. We have helped so many people out of homelessness and into more permanent accommodation, only to find them becoming homeless again – often multiple times.”

As London’s first year-round homelessness centre south of the Thames, it will be staffed by the councils Gateway service and partners in the voluntary and public sector. It will open by late autumn at a central Croydon location to be confirmed.

It will provide:

  • Secure sleeping quarters for up to around 10 people for 72 hours, including a private room
  • Same-day assessments and referrals
  • One-to-one case workers helping rough sleepers to navigate the process of getting a home
  • Help into supported accommodation or a private tenancy offered through Croydon Lettings
  • Mental and physical health referrals, including for those with drug and alcohol problems
  • Financial and budgeting support, plus help finding a job or training
  • Specialist workers to support people leaving prison and hospitals
  • A base for every organisation that works on homelessness prevention in Croydon

The initiative expands on the existing help given to rough sleepers in the borough. This includes council-funded supported accommodation for single homeless people, cold weather support via the Croydon Churches Floating Shelter and an emergency winter shelter run by Croydon Council with Crystal Palace Football Club.

An estimated 320,000 people are now homeless in Britain according to Shelters 2018 analysis from the Ministry of housing, Communities and Local Government.

It shows an estimation of 5,762 people in Croydon being homeless.

In comparison to other London boroughs such as Kensington and Chelsea who have an estimation of 5,283.

In 2016 Croydon was one of the top homeless spots in the UK – with 69 people sleeping rough on the streets.

This year the council’s Gateway service has placed vulnerable rough sleepers in 10 one-bedroom flats under the principles of Housing First, which offers long-term accommodation to homeless people with specialist wraparound support. The council also has government funding to deliver Housing First for another 10 chronic rough sleepers by spring 2020.

Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services, told ELL: “The year-round homeless support hub will make a significant addition to the services we currently provide. It is really important that people receive the assistance and support they need to move on into accommodation.

“But for some this journey is not easy and they have other issues that need addressing. Being able to work with people and ensure their needs are being met, means they are more likely to sustain future tenancies and change their life prospects.”

She added: “Any of us could become homeless and we all need extra assistance or support at some stage in our lives, the homeless support hub is about ensuring that a ‘hand-up’ is there when it is most needed.”

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