THE PROJECT officer for Harlow’s Streets2Homes scheme has admitted that the town is facing a “ridiculous” homelessness crisis.
Keiron Mitchell, who coordinates homeless housing projects for Streets2Homes only knows the situation too well.
As coordinator for the registered Harlow charity, he focuses on meeting the needs of vagrant people in the area.
“Our idea is to empower homeless people and enable them to make positive changes, plus tend to their immediate needs, putting food in someone’s belly and in terms of employment,” he said.
“Homelessness in Harlow is high. There’s been a ridiculous increase in three years. An estimated 20 people a month use our facilities. We receive thirty applications a month.
“A core group of around 15 people exists. A lot of clients return, but the majority make a success of the services provided.”
Mr Mitchell, continued: “Homelessness is not a root issue, but rather a side-effect. Other stuff is going on in these people’s lives.
“We don’t want to set people up to fail. We’re not a quick fix.”
Steets2Homes receive funding from various donations, including the National Lottery, food banks and local businesses however sustainability is an issue that Mr Mitchell acknowledges, but he was confident about the future.
He continued: “Our organisation works in a way that is very unique and awesome. We’ve grown in terms of private landlords, going from two to 30, and changed our assessments to give ourselves the best possible shot at helping them.”
Difficulty also exists in moving clients back into independence, with Mitchell revealing a small minority rejects opportunities to live away from the shelter.
He even doubts that the government is fighting a losing battle in targeting homelessness.
“I’ve been to seminars and I’m not even sure ending homelessness is possible, although we could end street-sleeping and many other issues,” he said.
His passion stems from being a born-again Christian, although he stresses Streets2Homes is not a faith organisation.
Furthermore, he cites “overwhelming majority” from Christians in Streets2Homes’ cause.
Vulnerably-housed people are also entitled to help, while anyone is allowed to visit the day centre.
“I advise people facing homelessness to contact Harlow Council,” he concluded.
“They are legally obligated to provide support. We take in referrals and our assessments are so that they can take the best way forward.”