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No homeless in Lambeth by May 2012

March 15 2012
 Rough sleepers to be offered accommodation or repatriation

 

Lambeth Council has set a goal to clear its streets of rough sleepers by May this year, The Pavement has learned.

According to Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Jim Dickson, a ?¢‚ǨÀúpersonalisation officer?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ will work with SORT teams to support the most entrenched rough sleepers in Lambeth. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìThe officer has already helped 17 entrenched rough sleepers find accommodation since this post was introduced in January,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù he added.

However, an anonymous source told The Pavement that the scheme may not be positive for all homeless people. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìThe idea is to set up a homeless hub where rough sleepers will be taken for assessment,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù explained our source. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìFrom there, they will be given an ?¢‚ǨÀúoffer?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ to accept. For local homeless people, this may mean an offer of housing; for others, it will mean immediate repatriation to their home town or country.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù At present rules surrounding the right to appeal the offer remain unclear.

Whilst the scheme may be effective for some rough sleepers, there are concerns that it will lead to alienation and distress for others. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìInstead of the emphasis being on building trust with the homeless community and helping them get back on their feet, it?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s all about numbers and shifting enough people by a certain date,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù our source explained. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìIt?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s part of an increasingly hard-line approach to rough sleepers, which includes a cutback on soup runs.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

Arguing that the plans could potentially aggravate, rather than tackle the issue, our source added that the new policies provided no alternatives for the homeless. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìSimply shifting people out is not necessarily a solution. It could also have an impact on crime as rough sleepers become increasingly desperate.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

The council, who claim the new targets are not influenced by the upcoming Olympics, say they are doing everything they can to work with the most entrenched rough sleepers and support them. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìOur complex needs hostel in Waterloo now has two on-site psychologists who can provide support to our most vulnerable and socially excluded clients,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù explained Dickson. He added that Lambeth has funded the capital?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s first ever Tenancy Rescue Service, which will contact residents who are at risk of homelessness because of the Government?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s welfare changes. In addition the council said it is working closely with homelessness charities to tackle the underlying issues.

Meanwhile, housing minister Grant Shapps has announced the introduction of a ?Ǭ£5 million social impact bond, which will be available only to homelessness charities that can prove success in reducing the number of rough sleepers.

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