London

Forest YMCA offers converted shipping containers to homeless

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Media captionEach home has a small kitchen and bathroom

Young homeless people in east London could soon be living in converted shipping containers as part of plans to help them save up for permanent homes.

The containers, which cost £20,000 each, will see residents pay 30% of the minimum wage - about £75 per week.

They have a bed, television, small kitchen and a toilet and shower.

Charity Forest YMCA hopes the temporary accommodation will act as a "stepping stone" for young people moving towards independent living.

No deposit will be needed and the charity hopes to pay for them through donations and government funding.

Forest YMCA has run a trial of the project for the past nine months in a car park while it applies for permanent planning permission for sites in Leytonstone and Walthamstow.

About 120 people are on the waiting list.

'Revolving door'

The charity's chief executive, Tim Pain, said the key issue for young people was finding an affordable home.

He said although the charity helped people gain employment, they then struggled to find a home because it was difficult to find rented accommodation when on the minimum wage and without receiving benefits.

They could not afford the first month's rent and deposit, Mr Pain said.

He said the container homes were like "a stepping stone" from dependency on the state to independent living and "becoming taxpayers".

"At the moment the steps are too big," Mr Pain said.

"We're great at getting people into education, employment and training but hopeless at getting them into affordable accommodation because it simply doesn't exist.

"Most young people end up sofa surfing, living with friends and moving around different places or they end up in a hostel so we have the revolving door of youth homelessness.

"They come into a hostel, make progress, move out and come back again."

Image caption Kino Hines said the container was better than the shared accommodation he was currently living in

Kino Hines, who first came to the YMCA in January 2010, said the container was better - and cheaper - than the shared accommodation he was currently living in.

He said letting agents had told him he needed to be earning two-and-a-half times the cost of rent before he could find a place.

For a studio flat costing £800 a month, he would need to earn £2,000.

"It puts you down a bit [and] lowers your self esteem," Mr Hines said.

"Because I have work I don't qualify for council housing."

About the containers, he said: "I think they are ideal and quite modern. If I'd had the opportunity when I first got employment I would have considered living in one of them.

"It's got all the essentials, it's self contained and it's a nice little location."

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