YMCA Walthamstow has launched its Rough Sleeper Assessment Bed Project which aims to reduce rough sleeping in Waltham Forest borough. Short-term accommodation will be provided for three months for each rough sleeper to help them get back on their feet, to access the support they need and to help them move on to more permanent housing.
The project is funded through the Government’s new Rough Sleeper Initiative which sets out to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it by 2027, according to the Homelessness Reduction Act. This new legislation places duties on borough councils to prevent and relieve homelessness, including for single homeless people who are at greater risk of sleeping rough.
At YMCA Walthamstow, we will be providing a 15-bed project with five staff to enable rough sleepers to settle, engage with the required services and then move through to either further supported/council/private rented accommodation. There will be 13 self-contained bedsits and a bedsit with two beds for No Recourse to Public Funds clients (migrants with care needs).
Many rough sleepers have dogs, and we will be welcoming the dogs to our project too. “A lot of homeless people only have dogs as their companions and we anticipate that we will have quite a few dogs staying with us,” says Heather Barrow, Area Housing Manager at YMCA Walthamstow.
“Our bedsits are dog friendly and the Dogs’ Trust has kindly partnered with us to provide leads, dogs, bowls, beds and toys, to ensure the dogs have what they need while they are with us. We have also registered with the Hope Project which is the Dogs’ Trust’s veterinary entitlement card scheme. This scheme funds veterinary treatment for dogs whose owners are homeless or in housing crisis. The nearest vet practice to YMCA Walthamstow is RSPCA Harmsworth Animal Hospital.”
Access into the project is through a referral process with Waltham Forest Single Homeless Advice and Support Service (WF SHASS). Rough sleepers will have to be rough sleeping in Waltham Forest or have a local connection to Waltham Forest. All rooms are self-contained with kitchen facilities.