Emerging into the light
We are just getting the first threads of the Government’s plans for rough sleepers in a move to make good on the promise of not allowing rough sleepers who have been placed in lockdown accommodation to return to the street.
Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary has promised that 3,300 homes will be built for rough sleepers in pandemic emergency accommodation over a 12 month period and that overall 6,000 units will be built in all. This is welcome news and for some, this will bring a massive improvement to their lives.
Of the 8,000+ rough sleepers identified in the capital, as of 14th May around 1,000 had been allocated hotel space. I can vouch for the stories about people making 3 or more applications to be taken into one of these hotel rooms and still not being accepted.
We have a client who suffers from PTSD, has depression and anxiety but is still on the street. Why?
The outreach team have attempted to verify him but have not actually seen him bedded down and therefore as he is clean and his clothes are laundered suspect he is staying with friends. He is not – he does have a friend who does have accommodation – our client is sometimes allowed to shower and his friend has laundered his clothes. He gets scared and therefore will move from place to place or get on a night bus so does not understand the protocol of “verifying”.
He does not communicate well as English is not his first language and he finds it hard to follow instructions sometimes more often than not as he does not quite understand.
We have made a homelessness application to the local authority but as he made an application before and was advised to re-connect to his originating borough which just so happens to be near Manchester, they refused to assist. He was very stressed by his time outside London with no community, no church of his religion’s persuasion at which he could worship and the lack of welcome from the community in that area. Whatever one says, acceptance can be a long and rough road if you are not “one of us”. There may be a route to contest this decision in the light of this pandemic to send someone to the North West of England where the R-Rate is nearly twice as high as it currently is in the capital as we are aware that a law centre is looking into the validity of local connection as a factor in assessing a homelessness application during lockdown
Right now, his situation is that we have made a number of referrals to housing projects for him. Happily one has a vacancy coming up this Wednesday and he is due to be given an assessment this Tuesday. We are crossing our fingers, toes, and just about everything else that he will be offered this precious placement.