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Newham's mayor announces measures to tackle homelessness, including 20-bed homeless centre

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 July 2018

Rough sleepers in the Stratford Centre

Rough sleepers in the Stratford Centre

Archant

Newham’s mayor has announced a wave of measures to tackle the borough’s homelessness crisis.

Cllr Rokhsana FiazCllr Rokhsana Fiaz

Rokhsana Fiaz’s proposals include a 20-bed homeless centre staffed by mental health specialists, more outreach workers and pop-up daycare facilities.

According to figures from housing charity Shelter, Newham has the highest rate of homelessness in London, with one in 25 people being recorded as homeless.

Ms Fiaz said: “It is a disgrace that in 2018 people are forced to risk their safety and health by sleeping on the streets and in Stratford shopping centre.

“With this fresh new approach and funding, I want to ensure that we give people a genuine alternative to sleeping rough, and a clear path to safe, permanent homes as well as the support they need to break the cycle of despair they find themselves in.”

In May, Lorraine Tabone, the head of homeless charity Lola’s Homeless, said the issue in Stratford was close to breaking point.

“You’ve got people from all over the place, all different ages, no money, nowhere to live, some taking drugs, some with serious mental health issues,” she said.

“It’s getting close to breaking point. Something should have been done a long time ago.”

As part of the proposals, a pilot scheme called Housing First, which aims to get homeless people permanently off the streets, will be extended. There’ll also be additional support for domestic abuse survivors, who because of their immigration status, may not have access to public funds.

The services will be funded by a £500,000 grant from the ministry for housing, communities and local government, and will be overseen by a new homelessness forum, made up of former homeless people, councillors and charity group members. It will meet for the first time next month.

Cabinet member for health and social care, councillor Susan Masters, said: “Tackling the housing crisis and addressing rough sleeping is a top priority for the council.

“We are building a robust set of services, including a new 20-bed assessment centre, extra emergency beds and an extended pilot of the Housing First scheme, which supports people with a roof over their head right at the start of their journey off the streets.”

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