Essex

Empty Harlow council homes given over to homeless

Declan Delgarno
Image caption Declan Dalgarno has been sleeping in a tent in woods on the edge of Harlow for the last seven months

Empty council houses are being re-opened in an Essex town as temporary shelters for the homeless.

Nine rough sleepers will live in two refurbished cottages in Harlow, supported by charity Streets2Homes.

One of those offered a place in a cottage is Declan Dalgarno, who has been sleeping in a tent in woods on the edge of Harlow for seven months.

The charity said as well as offering housing it would also provide help to "support positive life changes".

Mr Dalgarno, 22, told the BBC: "Being homeless is very tough, but it is doable. You look to the future.

"I'm one of the few people that don't feel the cold. The winter never bothers me, but I do feel for the people who do feel the cold."

Mr Dalgarno, who grew up in Harlow, said his childhood dreams of becoming a helicopter rescue pilot were dashed by a hearing problem.

After leaving school, he worked as a driver's mate then at a warehouse.

He admits he had been "stupid" in the past and anger problems led him to leaving home. He then lost his job and was later evicted from a rental property after noise complaints.

Image copyright Harlow Council
Image caption The cottages are owned by Harlow Council and fell into disrepair some years ago

The cottages are owned by Harlow Council and fell into disrepair some years ago.

Streets2Homes chief executive Kerrie Eastman said: "They can be there a night, or a year.

"It is holistic. We look at the whole well-being with support workers to help them.

"This will not only relieve homelessness but also encourage and support positive life changes that will help them to move on to secure and sustainable permanent accommodation and increase their future life opportunities."

The charity said there had been an upsurge in homelessness in the area.

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