A range of measures that are helping support rough sleepers were highlighted and praised yesterday (4 July 2019) when the Minister for Housing and Homelessness visited Harlow.
Heather Wheeler MP met representatives from the council and local homelessness charity Streets2Homes to talk about the local partnership work which is supporting rough sleepers.
During the visit the minister had a tour of supported accommodation at Bromley Cottages and met local people who are being helped by the project. Bromley Cottages are former empty derelict council homes that have been brought back into use as purpose-built supported accommodation for rough sleepers. The cottages provide accommodation for up to nine rough sleepers and provide more than just a bed and a room. Streets2Homes provides specialist support to those living there to help people get their lives back on track.
A number of measures are in place in Harlow to meet the different needs of rough sleepers and have been funded through the Government’s rough sleeping initiative fund. Harlow Council and Streets2Homes successfully obtained £260,500 from the fund in 2018/19 and £231,000 this year. In addition to bringing back empty properties into use, the funding also allows for:
· Employing a full-time co-ordinator at the council to oversee services and support for rough sleepers.
· Employing outreach/tenancy support workers at Streets2Homes and employing support workers at Bromley Cottages.
· Support to help get people off the street and into other settled accommodation suited to their needs.
· Extending severe weather provision across the winter period (November to February), so a range of different accommodation types can be provided to suit individual circumstances.
With the resources currently provided the success of these initiatives demonstrates that the council is well on track to achieve the Government target of eliminating rough sleeping by 2027.
Following the tour, the minister also had a roundtable discussion with the council and Streets2homes about the work in Harlow and the challenges for the future.
Councillor Eugenie Harvey, Deputy Leader of the Council, was part of the delegation to meet the minister, she said:
“I would like to thank the minister for coming to Harlow and taking the time to talk to us all. We were able to show the excellent partnership work which takes place in Harlow to support rough sleepers and how the Government’s rough sleeping initiative fund is being used effectively.
“The restoration of Bromley Cottages was a true team effort with Streets2Homes coming up with the idea and the council providing the properties. Our trading company HTS restored and refurbished the cottages with individuals and local businesses donating items to complete the new homes. It really shows what you can achieve by everyone working together. We heard personal stories from those being supported by the project and the difference it is making to their lives.
“Streets2Homes is a fantastic local charity that continues to go from strength to strength, with Bromley Cottages adding to the support it can provide. We know that rough sleepers need more than just a place to live – that is the first solution for many – but it’s the specialist support and help over the long term which is just as important. Sadly, some people choose to sleep rough and reject support; overcoming these barriers is all part of what council housing officers and Streets2Homes are doing in partnership. These measures are helping rough sleepers, but we need continued Government support and funding.”
Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP said:
“I was delighted to visit Harlow at the request of local MP Robert Halfon and meet Councillors Eugenie Harvey and Simon Carter.
“Having a place to call home is essential in helping homeless people to rebuild their lives.
“It was my pleasure to visit the newly-refurbished Bromley Cottages and speak to some of the incredible individuals who - with the help of Streets2Homes - have turned their lives around. “We know of the complex issues surrounding rough sleeping and homelessness, and Streets2Homes offers a tailored, joined-up service, that sees people get the support they need.
“This year, Rough Sleeping Initiative investment totals £46 million and has been allocated to 246 areas – providing funding for an estimated 750 additional staff and over 2,600 bed spaces across the country.
“I want to thank Harlow Council for the admirable work it has carried out to help rough sleepers in the area. Streets2Homes is a fantastic example to follow and I hope the charity continues to thrive as we push to end rough sleeping for good.”