Charity opens development to help homeless into independent living

The move-on accommodation has opened at YMCA Thames Gateway's Romford site

The move-on accommodation has opened at YMCA Thames Gateway's Romford site - Credit: Joas Souza

Homeless people in Havering have received a boost with the official opening of new transitional housing.

The Park View development in Rush Green Road, Romford, provides accommodation for 39 residents who are looking to move out of YMCA Thames Gateway’s hostel and towards independent living.

Residents moved into their new homes in July, which in turn allowed 39 homeless people to move into the rooms vacated at the hostel.

Brian Cooke, director of housing at YMCA Thames Gateway, said there is “a massive gap” in transitional housing.

Mr Cooke explained that Park View was created to address this, saying: “We house around 500 people a year, and find them somewhere to move onto. It’s extremely challenging, so to work through that challenge we built our own move-on accommodation.” 

According to Mr Cooke, the “modular build” of the accommodation makes it particularly innovative.

The homes were constructed in a factory in Derbyshire, before being transported to Romford, where they were lifted into place.

The cost of renting the accommodation, at around 80 per cent of the area’s market rate, is “affordable” for residents and makes it “easier for them to see themselves working and how they can afford to pay rent.”

Summing up the reaction of Park View’s new residents, Mr Cooke said: “It’s really positive. They’ve come from a hostel which is shared bathrooms, shared dining areas, moving into their own self-contained units of the highest quality and it is absolutely the best step into independent living they could ask for.”

He added that a number of residents have experienced street homelessness, so to move into a self-contained property “to be proud of” is an “incredible journey” they appreciate. 

The need for hostels and transitional housing has increased during the pandemic, with an 80 pc rise in applications for housing to YMCA Thames Gateway.

Mr Cooke felt that the strain placed on relationships during lockdown, often within already overcrowded households, has contributed to the number of people becoming homeless.