Number of rough sleepers in Redbridge is on the rise
The number of rough sleepers in Redbridge has increased continually in the past four years, according to a database.
The Combined Homeless and Information Network (CHAIN) documents the number of people outreach workers see on the streets.
The number in Redbridge between April 2012 and March was 83 – 26 more than the previous year.
But outreach workers say it may not represent the true number of homeless people as people sleeping in derelict buildings, such as Ilford Baths, in High Road, would not be seen.
Jeremy Nicholas, from the Single Homeless Project (SHP), which works in the borough, said the increase of rough sleeping could be cased by displacement from central London, immigration and the impact of welfare reforms.
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He added: “In Redbridge there’s about a 50/50 split between rough sleepers who have access to benefits and those who don’t.”
The charity is concerned that even where people are able to claim, changes could make it difficult for vulnerable Redbridge residents to make ends meet and cause more people to become homeless.
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The number in Redbridge is already higher than neighbouring Barking and Dagenham and Havering, but far lower than central London boroughs including Westminster, which alone has thousands of rough sleepers.
Of the people spoken to by charities, most had previously lived in private rented accommodation but others had come from a family home, staying with friends or prison.
The most common reason for ending up on the streets, affecting almost one in five people, was relationship breakdown, followed by eviction and a move seeking work.
Nearly half of the homeless people encountered in the capital were British and around 30 per cent central and eastern European – from countries in the former Soviet Bloc.
A Redbridge Council spokesman said the council is working hard with voluntary groups to “tackle the issue” and help rough sleepers off the streets.
She added: “Our programme equips people to help themselves out of the downward spiral of homelessness by providing positive opportunities around employment, health, education and training and ultimately into work and a settled home.” The council also supports seasonal night shelters and day care centres for the homeless.