Extra provision for rough sleepers in St Albans district

Market Place in St Albans in the snow.

Market Place in St Albans in the snow. - Credit: Archant

Charities and the council are making extra provision for homeless people during this week’s severe weather.

Snow has been falling regularly in St Albans and temperatures have fallen below freezing.

The district council’s head of housing Karen Dragovic said: “We carried out a count of rough sleepers on one night in November last year and five were identified, although of course the figure could vary day by day.

“We give extra help to them during severe weather every year and our plan has been in place at times of cold weather this winter since late November. It involves working with a number of partner organisations.

“We’ve arranged for the Open Door shelter to provide five additional beds and a further five beds have been made available elsewhere through the Winter Beds Project. This is an initiative set up by a partnership of city centre churches, faith groups, Open Door and Hightown Housing Association.

“Centre 33 in Spicer Street, St Albans, operates a drop-in service offering hot food and drink.

“We have also asked all our staff to be vigilant and report any concerns about rough sleepers they may come across. We would ask the public to do the same.

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“Last year we secured a £500,000 grant from the government for extra homeless services.

“We are using some of this to pay for a street drinking outreach worker to be employed by Hightown. They will make face-to-face contact with rough sleepers and provide advice.

“The money is also funding a scheme to make it easier for people seeking housing assistance to find privately rented homes. Two new housing officers are being recruited to run this.

“We are also providing funding to the Credit Union so people can access affordable loans for deposits and their first month’s rent.

“In 2016, we updated our Homelessness Strategy which details our planned actions and our main priorities for dealing with homeless issues.

“These include taking measures to identify those at risk and intervening to prevent them from becoming homeless.”