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House homeless people in empty council buildings, urge campaigners

Residents reach out to Hackney council to help rough sleepers. council about Photograph: Osvaldo Gago

Residents reach call on Hackney council to help rough sleepers. council about Photograph: Osvaldo Gago

A Hackney resident has launched a petition urging the council to throw open the doors of its empty buildings to the homeless this winter.

Jane Clendon is calling on Hackney Council to follow in the steps of Manchester Council, who recently announced they would welcome homeless people to stay in vacant premises across the city.

“Open your empty buildings and our homeless can have privacy to sleep, a proper bed at night [and] support to move forward,” Clendon wrote on the petition site.

“Please can we have an empty building so we can help turn peoples lives around and look after each other.”

Gee Sinha help set up the Hive, a community enterprise based in a four-storey former office block in Dalston.

“It’s vital for homeless people to have somewhere before the cold really kicks in. It’s great to see this petition. The more pressure put on the council to open its buildings the better.”

Sinha’s team is talking to Hackney Council about opening up unoccupied buildings for local communities. He believes the Hive Dalston shows how local enterprises can re-purpose empty buildings for the benefit of the local community.

“We’re hoping to prove it can be done well and in so doing persuade Hackney Council that it makes sense to open up their buildings for community use.”

A Hackney Council spokesperson said: “We’re currently exploring the opportunities to use empty space for accommodation as part of an ongoing piece of work.

“Emergency shelter accommodation is available through both volunteer and partner services and this is accessible both directly and through the Council. Outreach services also regularly patrol the borough at night to speak to rough sleepers to see what assistance can be given.


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