Search

Havering’s hidden homeless problem

18:00 22 August 2014

Stacey Muskett and Steve Moody have lived in the hostel with their two young children for four months. Picture: Sam Blewett

Stacey Muskett and Steve Moody have lived in the hostel with their two young children for four months. Picture: Sam Blewett

Archant

You may see the odd person begging in South Street but you may not realise that nearly every other day a household is made homeless in Havering but it’s kept well hidden because people are “deeply embarrassed”.

Vicky Jarvis is now living in shared accomodationVicky Jarvis is now living in shared accomodation

In parks across the borough rough sleepers lie down in sleeping bags and pitch tents. Others sleep in their cars.

But they may not appear to passers-by to be homeless, according to Kim Merry, chief executive of charity Hope4Havering (H4H).

She points out that many have access to showers and washing facilities at places such as the Salvation Army and keep their situation hidden from family and friends because of the stigma that comes with homelessness.

The council does a great deal of work trying to house those they have a “duty of care” to provide support – that is they lack a home, have a priority housing need (such as ill-health) and have a local connection with Havering.

Pick up the phone if you see a rough sleeper

If you spot someone sleeping rough, contact the council on 01708 432824 or charity No Second Night Out on 0300 500 0914 who will work with the council to find a solution.

But the council claims that there were only 11 rough sleepers in the year 2013/14 – a figure that Mrs Merry “confidently” refutes.

H4H opens churches for the homeless to sleep in, helping 11 people to bed down this week. This is less than half of the figure Mrs Merry sees in the winter.

But Sue Witherspoon, Havering’s head of housing, says there is no evidence that there is a problem of rough sleeping in Romford and Havering’s homelessness manager Lorrita Johnson says many who H4H accommodate do not have a local connection – something the charity disputes.

In 2013/14 779 families and individuals contacted the council. It investigated every case and determined that in 163 cases it had a statutory duty to house them.

Hostels managed by the council are the first port of call and are at capacity.

Havering has three hostels that house 279 people. A bed will rarely go unslept in at Abercrombie House, Bridgewater Road, Harold Hill, and manager Tracey Bagwell admitted that the “majority” of those in her hostel are young families.

The rooms are basic and contain the essentials. There are shared kitchens for the families to cook in.

It is tough for families to live there but it is a “temporary” solution before being moved on to a social or council-managed private property.

Havering’s housing needs manager Jonathan Geall says that people stay in them for “less than three months”.

However, some of the tenants don’t see it this way.

Steve Moody, 22, and Stacey Muskett, 21, moved to the hostel four months ago with their baby and two-year-old toddler because of a lack of space in their parents’ homes.

While Stacey looks after the children, Steve tries to find work but says “there is nothing out there”.

They hate having to bring up their children in a hostel with no communal area to play and complain that others use drugs in their rooms.

“All you need is flaps in the doors and meals to be served under them and you’d be in prison,” says Steve.

But 18-year-old Vicky Jarvis, who has spent the past three years sleeping on friend’s and family’s sofas, has finally got a permanent roof over her head thanks to the council.

“The people are really nice and I’ve got my own bed and somewhere to put my clothes rather than keep them in plastic bags,” she says of the shared accommodation in Rainham she has just moved to.

The council’s resources are stretched and bed and breakfasts are used when the hostels are full but as long as people are made homeless there is work to be done and the borough’s housing manager vows help is at hand.

H4H is always looking for support. If you can donate money, your time, or clothing, please get in touch with Mrs Merry on 07894 448 729.

Read more:

Havering housing chief ‘wrong on homelessness’, says charity

Poll: Does Havering have a homelessness problem?

Family left homeless after bus crashes into their Harold Hill home

1 comment

  • When I approached Havering council when I was about to be made homeless (I was out of work with ill health at the time, the landlord had sold the property I was living in), they told me that despite being registered as disabled, there was nothing they could do - I was on my own. The landlord of the old property was kind enough to give me an interest free load to move me into another privately rented flat. I repaid him once I was back at work. I'm currently well enough to work (and do), but just how do you qualify for social housing? It seems to be you have to be a foreign national, and thats all there is to it, otherwise "duty of care" or not Havering Council has no interest whatsoever.

    Report this comment

    george_brown

    Friday, February 5, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Latest Romford News Stories

The RSPCA Essex and Havering branch is asking for people to be

In the week when foxes in Leicester found the net to crown themselves Premier League champions, warnings have been issued to homeowners to ensure Havering’s foxes don’t score an own goal.

Kitten found in shoe box

The black and white fluffy kitten, who was taped inside a shoebox and dumped at a bus stop on the edge of Havering, has been renamed Louboutin after being rescued by the RSCPA.

Overturned car in Elm Park Avenue, Hornchurh (credit:@LAS_Newham)

A road in Hornchurch was closed for around two hours this morning after a car overturned.

11:50
Pollution at the drain in Harrow Lodge Park. Pictured October 2015.

Water in a park lake is being polluted because of sediment coming from neighbouring homes’ toilets, showers and sinks.

Dave Allen driving his 7 1/4

Hundreds of people enjoyed a ride on miniature trains steamed with Victorian engines over the bank holiday weekend.

Stubbers Family Adventure Festival at Stubbers Adventure Centre, Ockendon Road, Upminster.

More than 750 people turned out for a fun-packed Bank Holiday Monday.

Millie the border collie cross at Wylie Vets' open day, raising money for charity Pets as Therapy

Tributes have been paid to a dog that has “touched many hearts” through her volunteering work.

15:07
The team who helped raise the money for the British Heart foundation

A popular watering hole for pub-goers had a bumper bank holiday collection which raised more than £1,000 for charity.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Yummy traditional afternoon teas for two

MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Traditional Afternoon Teas for two at a location of your choice! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe