By Grainne Cuffe, local democracy reporter
Lewisham’s mayor and cabinet are set to approve £1.7 million in Section 106 money to fund 33 new specialist homes in Deptford for people suffering homelessness.
The housing, to be built on the former Shaftesbury Christian Centre and let at London Affordable Rent (LAR), is set to provide short term tenancies between one and three years for 18 to 35 years olds.
The aim is to get them back on their feet and into more permanent accommodation.
Tenants will be supported by Bench Outreach staff, a charity for people suffering from or who are risk of homelessness, to keep their tenancies, along with helping them into education, training, and employment.
The space, owned by The Deptford Ragged Trust (TDRT), is currently home to the Bear Church, which will be demolished and rebuilt on the site.
The independent Christian church merged with the Shaftesbury Christian Centre in 2007.
The new housing will be managed by J49, a not for profit developer created specifically for the project.
The S106 funds, paid to councils by developers to go towards social and community infrastructure, is dependent on J49 becoming a Registered Provider.
Its application to become an RP has yet to be approved – it is acknowledged in the report that the process is “rigorous”.
TDRT bought the land in 2019 with the aim to redeveloping the church and to provide affordable housing.
In December 2020 it received planning permission for a six storey building made up of a new church, community rooms, a café, and 33 one-bed flats.
According to a report, which recommends the S106 funds be allocated to the project, going before mayor and cabinet on Wednesday (June 9) : “There is an expectation that the homeless population will increase, particularly young single people, who will have become marginalised and economically vulnerable due to the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The type of specialist accommodation being offered at the former Shaftesbury Christian Centre site would offer affordable, medium term temporary supported housing and offer a pathway to enable people to get back on their feet.”
Bench Outreach, J49 and the Deptford Ragged Trust would also develop a mentoring programme to help residents with academic or career progression, or to develop start-up businesses.
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