Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Speak-out in Brent

May 22 2009
Silberbauer: Silberbauer:
Nearly 60 homeless people queried the housing waiting list, benefits, Brent‘s housing shortage and how housing need is assessed The homeless of Brent met with council and agency bosses on 17th January to quiz them about what is being done to help people living rough or in temporary accommodation. Nearly 60 homeless people took part in the speak-out event at the St Agnes' Centre in Cricklewood, organised by Brent Homeless User Group (B.HUG). Issues covered during the question and answer session focused mainly around the length of the housing waiting list, support services available for those moving into permanent accommodation, benefits, the shortage of housing in Brent and the categories used for assessing housing need. Anita Silberbauer, B.HUG operations and development manager, said, "Concerns were raised with regard to support services available to people once they have moved on. Participants were assured that support services (floating support through Supporting People) were available to help service users sustain their tenancy and offer help to live independently." The group also discussed whether it is best to build more hostels or invest in long term move-on accommodation. "The panel agreed that this would need to be discussed," said Silberbauer. Martin Cheeseman, representative of Brent Council, reiterated that the number of people in temporary accommodation would have to half by 2010. There are 4,600 families living in temporary accommodation in Brent at the moment and they will only achieve their target by using the private rental sector in more efficient ways. But one of the problems is that the council pays a lot more money on people staying in temporary hostel accommodation but will not support people in private accommodation, which would cost the borough less. The panel was made up of Martin Cheeseman, director of housing and community care, Brent Council; Sharon Harrison, scheme manager, English Churches Housing Group; Danny Maher, director of Cricklewood Homeless Concern and Alice Evans, head of policy manager at Homeless Link. The event was so successful that another one is already being organised for March. "It is an opportunity for homeless people to voice their concerns and get actively involved in improving services," said Silberbauer.