Search on for hostel building to aid homeless

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The City of London is planning to open a “life-changing” 32-bed hostel for the homeless and an assessment centre to offer them the best help to get off the streets.

The move comes after the latest statistics show that there were 37 men and four women sleeping rough in the Square Mile on 28 November – the night of the annual national count.

Twelve of them had been known to services across London for between a year and five years.

A third of those sleeping out that night had more than one “support need” such as alcohol or drug problems or mental health issues.

The move needs to be approved by the Court of Common Council – the Corporation’s council meeting – on 5 March.

The City’s homelessness and rough sleeping sub-committee – thought to be the only one of its kind in the country – put in a bid to fund for “significant capital funding” to lease a hostel for a decade and run a 24/7 assessment centre.

According to its latest statistics there are 11 entrenched “hard to reach” rough sleepers who are seen in the Square Mile.

In 2018/19 it was one of the top five local authorities in London with the highest number of homeless people. The others are Westminster, Southwark, Camden and Tower Hamlets.

The number of people recorded in the third quarter of 2019 – the latest available figures – were 145 people in the City, down from 212 at the same time the previous year. It was also a 20% drop on the previous quarter.

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The move came after Homeless Link looked at what the corporation offered homeless people in the City and suggested it provide a hostel with mental health and alcohol support.

The City Corporation has not disclosed the amount of money it could spend on the hostel for commercial sensitivity reasons.

The authority looked at several options, including buying a building.

It aims to provide hostel accommodation as close to the Square Mile as possible, if it can’t find a suitable place there.

The hostel is designed to complement outreach work, drug and alcohol services and a specialist social worker.

It’s not likely that the hostel or assessment hub will be open before 2021 at the earliest.

Committee chair Marianne Fredericks said it was a “big ask” to get the substantial funding for the schemes.

“We have taken a huge leap and we have this provision, the next step is finding the accommodation. We have a huge task in front of us.

“I don’t think in the history of the City Corporation in terms of funding has it provided such funding to two projects in one area.

“These projects are life-changing.”

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