A council scheme to get vulnerable rough sleepers off the streets and into a home of their own has signed up its first of 10 properties.
Earlier this year, the council successfully bid for a £500,000 Government grant towards tackling homelessness in the borough, including plans to give 10 local long-term homeless people their own flat and specialist wraparound support for their needs. The first 10 flats will become available by March, with help for a further 10 rough sleepers in 2019/2020.
Now the first of these homes, a one-bedroom property in Upper Norwood, has been allocated to the scheme and is due to be refurbished before the tenant moves in. As well as getting their own flat and help with sourcing furniture, each rough sleeper involved will have a key worker to help them access a range of support services, including health and wellbeing, drug treatment if necessary, help with skills and employability, training and benefits.
Working with local housing associations such as Optivo, charities including Thames Reach and the voluntary sector, the scheme is aimed at the most vulnerable rough sleepers who often have a history of street homelessness, with causes such as heavy debt, family breakdown, long periods with no stable home, high risk of abuse and significant mental and physical health problems.
The project is based on the principles of Housing First, where vulnerable homeless people receive accommodation on the sole condition that they maintain their tenancy, rather than needing to meet more detailed criteria. This means that the homeless person can settle into their accommodation, get the support they need and become less likely to return to the streets.
“Our most vulnerable rough sleepers require specialist help, which is why this accommodation is so important because it provides the space, time and support they need and works to prevent them from returning to the streets.
“This scheme promises to make a real difference to local people, and I look forward to the council working with our community partners to getting even more of these properties up and running.”
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services