A scheme to provide long-term accommodation and support to vulnerable rough sleepers in Croydon has now housed six people.

The council project provides housing on the sole condition that occupants maintain their tenancy, allowing them to settle into their accommodation and access the support they need to avoid a return to the streets.

The scheme aims at breaking the cycle of long-term homelessness caused by ingrained social issues, such as debt, family breakdown, abuse and mental and physical health problems.

Carried out with partners including key work support specialists Thames Reach, the project has been funded as part of a successful council bid last year for over £500,000 from the Government’s rough sleeping initiative.

Thames Reach manager Jakub Turek said: “The current tenants have quickly become settled and are excited to explore their options for the future, whether that’s volunteering, rehab, training or employment.

"Our key workers are a vital part of the journey, and support people using a flexible step-by-step approach, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to progress at a pace which is right for them.”

The first flat, a one-bedroom property in Upper Norwood, became available in December, and an additional five flats across the borough are being acquired for the scheme, which aims to accommodate 20 people by the end of March 2020.

Each tenant is supported by a key worker who helps them access a range of support services, including health and well-being, drug treatment and help with skills, employability, training and benefits.

The accommodation is a combination of council, private sector and housing association properties.

Councillor Alison Butler, Croydon Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services, said: “Housing First is about really changing people’s lives for the better - it gives them a decent roof over their heads and specialist support to prevent a return to sleeping rough.

“This is all about giving former rough sleepers an improved, more independent future, and I look forward to continuing to work with our partners to improve outcomes for even more of our residents.”