St Mungo's to expand Bristol 'rooms for homeless' scheme

Image caption,
The former community centre in Hartcliffe houses six people

More disused council buildings in Bristol are being converted into housing for homeless people.

The St Mungo's charity currently rents out 19 rooms for people who are free of drink and drugs addiction.

Gareth Mercer, from the charity, said: "We want them to be actively looking for work and the idea is they fund themselves. This is a stepping stone."

The charity hopes to double the number of rooms in Bristol over the next year and roll out the idea beyond the city.

Clive, 32, is a chef but his zero-hours contract made it hard for him to afford private rent.

He ended up on the streets on Christmas Eve and was found by support workers the following morning.

St Mungo's organised his housing at a former community centre in Hartcliffe which can accommodate six people.

Clive said: "I look back at the sleeping rough and it was a trial but it was my trial and I got through it. I'm now starting to come out the other end of it.

"I have steps in place now, there's a future for me."

The rooms are available for up to a year, but normally people move on after about four months, the charity said.

Tenants are charged £77 a week, compared to an average monthly rent in Bristol of about £353 plus deposits and bills in advance.

At the moment the charity is leasing four buildings in Bristol, and hopes to secure another six buildings so it can add 44 beds over the next year.

Bristol City Council said it had been working with the charity and other groups to help reduce homelessness.

A council spokeswoman said: "The properties are council-owned former offices or community centres which are currently out of use, and are offered to St Mungo's on a minimum six-month management agreement.

"The council also works with other not-for-profit providers, such as Home Turf, who manage former operational buildings as temporary accommodation on a 'guardianship' basis for homeless families.

"We will continue to look for suitable properties moving forward to help expand the scheme and support more people to move away from the streets."

A similar scheme has been used in Manchester where disused council buildings have been as overnight shelters for the city's rough sleepers.

Image caption,
Clive was homeless over Christmas but is now being housed at a former community centre

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