Today, the new Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, outlined a radical new approach to tackle the borough’s homelessness crisis.
Mayor Fiaz has identified homelessness as one of her top priorities and today announced a wave of new projects to assist rough sleepers in the borough, including a 20 bed homeless centre located in the borough, staffed by specialists in mental health, and drug and alcohol treatment; alongside more outreach workers to deal with street homeless across the borough with compassion and care.
Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said: “It is unacceptable that every night over 70 people are bedding down on the streets of Newham alone.” “It is a disgrace that in 2018 people are forced to risk their safety and health by sleeping on the streets and in Stratford shopping centre.” “With this fresh new approach and funding, I want to ensure that we give people a genuine alternative to sleeping rough, and a clear path to safe, permanent homes as well as the support they need to break the cycle of despair they find themselves in.”
Cabinet member for health and social care, Cllr Susan Masters said: “Tackling the housing crisis and addressing rough sleeping is a top priority for the council. We are building a robust set of services, including a new 20-bed assessment centre, extra emergency beds and an extended pilot of the Housing First scheme, which supports people with a roof over their head right at the start of their journey off the streets.”
Delivery of the new services will be scrutinised and informed by a newly formed homelessness forum which will meet for the first time next month. The forum will bring together representatives of the homeless community - including those who have experienced street homelessness - with council staff, councillors and members of local voluntary and charity groups.
The package of new proposals, funded by a £500,000 grant from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, also include:
- Extending a “Housing First” pilot for rough sleepers to find a permanent way off the streets.
- Funding 20 extra emergency accommodation beds by making hotel rooms available for use all year round
- Increase the provision of “pop-up” day-care facilities for the homeless, including extra staff, and money to fund the rent of the buildings.
- Supporting women suffering domestic abuse – who would normally have no recourse to public funds due to their immigration status.