The government has given Croydon Council a £635,000 grant to continue its work to tackle homelessness during the pandemic through helping people into accommodation and providing health support.
It is possible that some of that money could be used to pay for accommodation in the Croydon Park Hotel, which is owned by the council and where the council was providing accommodation for key workers during the first lockdown. Council officials have suggested that this would be a “meanwhile” use for the building since the hotel operators were forced out of business in June.
Since lockdown started in March, the council says it has placed 468 homeless people, including 163 rough sleepers, into temporary accommodation and has found long-term private supported housing for around half of them.
Now the council has received extra funding from the Next Steps Accommodation programme run by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, which aims to limit homelessness and long-term rough sleeping through councils that offer rapid and tailored move-on support.
Of the total grant, £333,866 is to house rough sleepers in emergency accommodation; £104,479 to employ four extra staff members to support rough sleepers to move on, £90,925 to offer rent in advance deposits so former rough sleepers get help into private rented housing; £70,000 to provide GP support; and £35,730 for mental health support.
“This funding will include provision for a street population outreach worker to work alongside local partner organisations to get rough sleepers the help they need,” the council said in a press release.
The grant announcement comes after the council reopened its 24-hour Somewhere Safe To Stay hub, which gets rough sleepers off the streets into secure accommodation, assesses their financial, medical and housing needs, and offers specialist support to end their homelessness for good.
Delivered for the council with MHCLG funding support, the hub had to close in March because of the need to protect rough sleepers’ health during covid-19 restrictions. Rough sleepers were instead placed in other temporary accommodation, including hotels and bed and breakfasts.
The hub, which usually has shared sleeping quarters, female-only shared bedrooms, a private room and a kitchen, has now reopened with self-contained space for five former rough sleepers so that it meets social distancing requirements.
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