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Rough sleeper numbers rising in Redbridge in last six months

PUBLISHED: 10:00 16 October 2015

John Clifton, leader of the Salvation Army, says moving rough sleepers from place to place is only moving the problem along

John Clifton, leader of the Salvation Army, says moving rough sleepers from place to place is only moving the problem along

Archant

A rise in the number of rough sleepers in the past six months has sparked concerns from charities of a lack of accommodation capacity for homeless people.

Cabinet member for housing Cllr Ross Hatfull admitted the number of rough sleepers has gone up in recent months and this was “a big concern”.

“We are getting a lot of complaints from residents but also as an organisation, we do not want to see people sleeping on the streets.”

Redbridge Council confirmed there has been “an increase in the number of rough sleepers in the borough in the last six months” but that this was part of “a London-wide issue”.

Charities spoke out after a group of 11 people, who had settled on the car park of Lynton House, High Road, cleared the site following an eviction notice issued by Redbridge Council at the end of September.

The Single Homelessness Project (SHP) provides 18 emergency beds for homeless people at Jason Lee House, York Road, Ilford on behalf of the council but has 40 people on its waiting list, including 12 rough sleepers.

Stephen Rylance, from the SHP, said: “Clearly there is a capacity problem. There is enormous pressure on the council from the cuts that have already happened and the problem is only getting worse.”

Cllr Hatfull suspects the rise is the result of a change in benefit laws, which has restricted the rights of EU nationals to claim benefits, and “made the situation significantly worse”.

He told the Recorder the council was working closely with organisations in the borough to support and engage with rough sleepers.

In recent months, the council also started to work with the London Reconnections Team and the Targeted Rapid Intervention Outreach Team, which support homeless EU national to return to their home country, and offers rapid intervention to vulnerable rough sleepers.

The group of homeless men, who lived in the makeshift camp on Lynton House car park were known to the charities, but were not entitled to be homed by the council’s services.

Rita Chadha, chief executive of the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London (Ramfel), said temporary accommodation was vital for people to get their records sorted with the Home Office, but those types of accommodation “will always outstrip the supply”.

She said: “It is costing the council more to clear people from a camp than to give us the money to solve this problem long term.”

Leader of Ilford Salvation Army, John Clifton, said evicting rough sleepers only moves the problem along.

“It is all very well moving people from place to place but where are they being moved to? There is nowhere to move into.”

Cllr Hatfull said the council would like to work more closely with Ramfel and any application for a grant would be considered.

He also acknowledged there was an issue with clearing sites as people settle somewhere else or another group moves in.


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