A fresh start for rough sleepers

More than 30 former rough sleepers will be given a safe, warm, comfortable home of their own after we secured almost £4.5m in grant funding from the Greater London Authority (GLA).

The grant, won in October 2020, allowed us to buy 30 one-bed flats in Barking and Dagenham and Croydon, which we have renovated to the standards of our SimpliCity homes, aimed at working families.

Our first resident, Rui, moved in this month and spoke of his pride at finally having a home of his own.

He said: “I was sleeping rough for six years and was put into a hotel in February 2020. I have been there more than a year and had a bedroom and bathroom, but was unable to use any communal areas and didn’t get to speak to other people.

“I never imagined I’d get all this space for one person. Having all this furniture means I can move in straight away and I would never have been able to afford it anyway. I had no kitchen in the hotel and can’t wait to be able to cook.

“I dreamt all this time of having a home, but I didn’t believe I’d get a palace like this. Thank you for helping me.”

Four more residents will be moved into flats by the end of April, with the rest of the home getting filled over coming months.

Figures released by the GLA in September 2020 showed there were 4,227 rough sleepers in London from April to June 2020, a 33-per cent increase from 2019 and 63 per cent up in 2018.

Meanwhile Barking and Dagenham, where we are providing many of our 30 homes, had seen the biggest increase between 2019 and 2020, of 933 per cent, rising from six to 62.

Samehra Arif, housing delivery manager for supported housing, who has led the scheme, said: “Seeing what a difference we are making to people who have been sleeping rough for so long is quite overwhelming. I am so proud of everyone involved in this project who have been committed every day to providing the best quality homes we can.

“Thank you to the GLA for the support that has allowed this vital project to come to fruition. We hope to be able to do even more in the future.”

• We have also secured £28,000 from the Rough Sleepers Accommodation Programme to convert an empty, not-fit-for-purpose building in Hammersmith and Fulham into self-contained flats for women with complex needs who had been living in hostels. All four have now been let.