Waltham struggling to house rough sleepers

Waltham Forest Council is still struggling to obey the government and house all its rough sleepers as some refuse to engage with services.

Local councils were asked by the Government to find housing for rough sleepers by the last weekend in March to allow them to self-isolate and prevent the spread of the pandemic.

Responding to concerns from a resident, a council spokesperson admitted some people often seen around Leytonstone station were still on the street.

In a tweet on April 12, Katie Watkins asked the council: “I understand it’s challenging times but the amount of homeless people around Leytonstone station is terrible to see.

“What happened to them being rehomed during this time?”

A council spokesperson responded: “The homeless people seen around Leytonstone station are all known to us and have been offered support by outreach workers, such as St Mungos.

“Some of them are engaging at a slow pace, some have vulnerabilities and others have substance misuse, and are being supported by the relevant agencies.”

“One particular rough sleeper from the location refused to engage with the homeless services, substance misuse support, and has also committed several criminal offences.

“We are currently applying for an injunction against this individual and will include a mandatory condition – to engage with housing needs and drug and alcohol agency.”

Figures from CHAIN indicate there were around 40 rough sleepers in Waltham Forest at the end of last year.

Cllr Louise Mitchell, cabinet member for shelter, previously said: “Waltham Forest Council is working hard to secure temporary accommodation for all rough sleepers.

“We will be moving people from the borough’s night shelter and other known rough sleepers into accommodation as soon as possible.

“If residents are concerned about someone who may be sleeping rough in their area, I urge them to use the Tell Streetlink smartphone app to connect them with local support services.”

Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter