A council scheme to get vulnerable rough sleepers off the streets and into the warmth and security of somewhere they can call “home” has signed up its first of 10 properties.
But none of the homes will be available to be lived in until March.
And Labour-run Croydon Council is continuing to provide “assistance” to rough sleepers with help from a charity which was exposed as collaborating with the Tory government’s “hostile environment” policy, which seeks to repatriate homeless people from other countries.
This week’s announcement by Croydon Council specifically states that the homes will be for “local” homeless people – presumably suggesting that the charity, Thames Reach, might be able to continue with its policy of handing over client details to the Home Office to facilitate deportation if they are not “local” enough.
Earlier this year, the Croydon Council successfully bid for a £500,000 Government grant towards tackling homelessness in the borough, including giving 10 long-term homeless people their own flat and support for their needs.
The first of the 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 well-being, drug treatment if necessary, help with skills and employability, training and benefits.
Following this year’s batch of homes, a further 10 rough sleepers will be provided with similar help in 2019-2020.
Alison Butler, the council deputy leader and part of the Blairite clique which controls the Labour group at the Town Hall, is behind the housing scheme.
“The project is based on the principles of Housing First,” the council said, “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.”
In the council’s press release this week, Croydon identified Thames Reach as one of those agencies involved in the housing for the homeless scheme.
Thames Reach has had a controversial policy of handing over details of its homeless clients to the Home Office, as part of Theresa May’s deportation policy.
Last year, a spokesperson for the charity was quoted as saying, “Thames Reach has no powers to compel rough sleepers to return home but when we believe that individuals are at risk from living on the streets, where people are in extreme destitution, we will work with the Home Office to plan a way for them to return home.”
A report last March from Corporate Watch revealed concerns about homelessness charities’ links to immigration enforcement, as under measures plucked from an Orwellian dystopia the government sought information from landlords, schools and the NHS to assist with their strategy.
Joint visits by immigration officials and some charity workers in eight London boroughs in 2016 led to 133 rough sleepers being detained in immigration removal centres.
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