Harp’s hostel will house 11 homeless

6:00am Thursday 7th November 2013

A CHARITY hopes to make a dent in the homeless population in Southend after getting permission to open a new hostel.

Harp has got permission from Southend Council to transform the former Vancouver House care home in Hastings Road, Southend, into a property with 11 single bedrooms and shared facilities where people can stay with support from the charity.

According to the homeless charity, there are on average each night about 15 to 20 people sleeping on the town’s streets.

It hopes the increase in beds could make a significant dent in the amount and free up more emergency beds in its night shelter, which will move from Valkyrie Road to the Bradbury Centre at York Road, Southend, when development work is completed.

Gill Garwood Harp chief executive, said: “We are really thrilled because at the moment the night shelter is the only one in the town, We have a bedblocking problem and it is always 100 per cent full, which is awful when the weather gets cold and we have to turn people away.

“With the new property, we will make a significant dent in the number of homeless people on the streets and then give them the skills they need to stay off them.”

People can stay in the night shelter until they are found more permanent accommodation, but it was meant to be for emergencies.

Now more people will be able to transfer to Vancouver House, freeing up more space at the night shelter which will increase from 14 to 18 beds when the Bradbury Centre opens.

Tenants of Vancouver House are unlikely to be those with mental health problems or drink or drug issues.

Mrs Garwood added: “People find themselves homeless for reasons such as a marriage breakdown or the young who have had to leave home and need breathing space to get themselves sorted out. While they stay with us there will be a programme teaching them how to manage a tenancy, cooking and budgeting skills.”

People will stay from two to six months. They will have to be in by 11.30pm and have to sign “good behaviour” contracts not to annoy neighbours.

Harp paid £220,000 for the building in March and the project is being funded by a £120,000 Government grant, plus donations and Southend Council funding.

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