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Covid-19 lockdown sees spike in temporary accommodation requests to Romford YMCA

Brian Cooke. Picture: YMCA Thames Gateway

Brian Cooke. Picture: YMCA Thames Gateway

YMCA Thames Gateway

A charity has revealed its Romford branch has seen a surge in the number of people needing temporary accommodation since the start of lockdown.

A modular unit is put into place at the YMCA's Romford site in Rush Green Road. Picture: YMCA Thames GatewayA modular unit is put into place at the YMCA's Romford site in Rush Green Road. Picture: YMCA Thames Gateway

YMCA Thames Gateway, which provides supported accommodation for homeless people across London and Kent, said the Rush Green Road base had an 80 per cent increase in applications across April, May and June.

Brian Cooke, director of housing, said the impact of Covid-19 on demand for the charity’s services had been massive.

He said: “An 80pc increase is quite significant, especially when the world stopped moving. But housing didn’t.

“If you are already in a family environment where relationships are strained and all of a sudden you are in a lockdown situation, you can understand why some of that happened.

What the inside of the homes at Romford YMCA's development will look like. Picture: YMCA Thames GatewayWhat the inside of the homes at Romford YMCA's development will look like. Picture: YMCA Thames Gateway

“Also you had things such as people losing their jobs; the gig economy, where people are working in coffee shops and that kind of thing, when they had to shut down then their income stopped.

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“Where a lot of these young people are in house shares and can’t pay their rent, they are evicted quite quickly.

“So there’s a number of reasons why we think that went up. But we’re just lucky we were able to offer something. But it’s not a temporary issue; it’s a long-term issue emphasised by Covid.”

What the inside of the homes at Romford YMCA's development will look like. Picture: YMCA Thames GatewayWhat the inside of the homes at Romford YMCA's development will look like. Picture: YMCA Thames Gateway

Brian also gave an update on the progress of a project to deliver 39 move-on homes at the Rush Green Road site.

He said around 12 units have been put in place so far, with the development set to be complete by the end of October. “We are in a housing crisis throughout the country and we do see young people have the biggest challenge. So the motivation behind getting these units in was to ease up on some of the shortages locally for young people.

“They are designed to give young people leaving the hostel a head start in life. It forms part of the long-term strategy to break the cycle of homelessness.”

The one-bed flats can be lived in for up to five years and the charity will offer tenants “hands-off” support, Brian added.

What the inside of the homes at Romford YMCA's development will look like. Picture: YMCA Thames GatewayWhat the inside of the homes at Romford YMCA's development will look like. Picture: YMCA Thames Gateway

A phased moving in of residents will take place over a month, once the modular homes are installed.

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