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London hostels to close

June 03 2014
Up to 100 homeless people will lose support as two Soho hostels fall prey to cuts in funding

Up to 100 homeless people will lose support and a place to sleep, after it emerged that two hostels in Soho, London, will have to close due to cuts in funding.

One of the hostels, in Great Chapel Street, is run by One Housing Group, a social housing provider and the other, in Greek Street, is managed by Centrepoint, a charity for homeless young people.

Both provided support for long-term rough sleepers and drug addicts, and had believed they were guaranteed funding until 2015. They are now expected to close by July.

Westminster Council, who cut their grants for 2015, said that there were other organisations locally who could better service their needs, and pointed to their under-use and poor repair as further evidence of the need to close them.

Kevin Dooley, a former addict who spent four years sleeping on the streets of Soho before getting clean and qualifying as a drug counsellor, told the West End Extra: “Drugs and crime will increase if the hostels are closed.

“I know it’s a cliché, but these hostels are a lifesaver. Closing them is going to increase homelessness."

Westminster has the highest number of rough sleepers in London and the council said they would channel the money from the closed hostels into services that help people “move towards independent accommodation”.

Seyi Obakin, chief executive of Centrepoint, said: “We are working to ensure the transition to alternative accommodation is as smooth as possible.” Kevin Beirne, group director of One Housing Group, said: “We share the council’s concern that the building is not ideally suited for rough sleepers.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We need to make sure that all services are meeting the complex and varied needs of those who need them.”