Homelessness: Camden launch consultation on draft new homelessness strategy

Homelessness is on the rise in the borough. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Homelessness is on the rise in the borough. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Camden Council have launched a consultation on a new homelessness strategy amidst criticism from volunteers that the borough does not do enough.

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould. Picture: David Mirzeoff/PA Images

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould. Picture: David Mirzeoff/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The new strategy sets out how the borough is hoping to arrest the rise in rough sleeping in the borough.

The draft strategy highlights four key principles to tackling homelessness: Prevention, providing “wraparound support” to those in crisis, boosting the number of affordable homes being built, and lobbyying for a national response to the housing crisis.

When a reporter from the Ham&High’s sister paper the Islington Gazette covered Islington’s annual count of rough sleepers, we found volunteers and homeless people themselves criticised Camden’s approach.

Toeing the border between Islington and Camden, we observed there seemed to be lots more people bedding down on the Camden side.

Jon Glackin from homelessness outreach group Street Kitchen insisted Islington has a more sympathetic approach to rough sleepers than Camden, with the latter “trying to push them out of the borough”.

One homeless man told the Gazette: “The numbers are not correct, they’re not there. Euston, King’s Cross, Victoria, Camden are the most packed with homeless people but you get people sleeping on buses too.”

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At a homelessness themed council meeting last month, guest speakers told councillors of the extent of the problem.

Dr Jasmine Malik from Camden Health Improvement Service, said “People experiencing homelessness have complex needs,” she said. “50pc of referrals in Camden have mental health problems, and an increasing number have no access to public funds, including victims of human trafficking or modern slavery.”

Launching the draft strategy and consultation, Cllr Meric Apak, who heads up housing for Camden, said: “Building on what we know from experience works well in our current approach, we have drafted a robust strategy for preventing homelessness and helping rough sleepers find a sustainable way off the streets.

“This focuses on supporting people threatened with homelessness to help them stay in their homes by working together with private sector landlords and their tenants, a range of voluntary organisations, housing associations and other sectors to tackle some of the deep rooted issues around homelessness.”

Council leader Cllr Georgia Gould also said: “As a borough, we always endeavour to help all those who find themselves in this predicament with support into housing in Camden or to reconnect to support in their home area and start rebuilding their lives.

“We have invested £1.7 million in council money to fund our own innovative approaches to address these issues.”

The online consultation is now open and will close on Monday 18 February 2019.