A Leeds housing chief has reassured families fleeing domestic violence that the closing of the city’s homeless hostels will not compromise their safety.
The YEP reported yesterday (Sept 3) that Mount Cross, the Salvation Army hostel in Bramley, was closing after 85 years of serving the community.
It is one of three hostels in the city which have been decommissioned as part of a strategic review of the city’s temporary housing services.
Council bosses say the existing hostels had become “outdated” and there was “a strong preferences from homeless families for self-contained temporary accommodation with support, rather than large hostels”.
However former residents and staff told the YEP they did not feel as safe under the new structure, as the hostels had offered 24-hour security and a “community” feeling.
Mum-of-five Vered Thompson, who sought refuge at Mount Cross after fleeing a violent partner, said: “You feel safe here [in a hostel].
“I lived in temporary accommodation myself and we had a worker who came out once a week.
“Here, if you had a problem, you could get it dealt with straight away. And if someone turns up who you don’t want to see, they can turn them away.”
Coun Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services, said: “We take the issue of security very seriously for anyone applying for temporary accommodation, especially those fleeing violence.
“We offer a number of options for people in this situation, including a refuge service, be this hostel or dispersed refuge accommodation where there are additional security measures.
“A more preferable option for many households at risk of violence is to install additional security measures through the council’s Sanctuary scheme.
“Also, where a family is fleeing domestic violence, there is also the option to receive outreach floating support from a specialist domestic violence service.”
Coun Gruen said he is now “very keen” to hear from people who have used the new-style accommodation already to help put together some first-hand accounts and develop the service.
“Temporary accommodation is intended to offer a short term solution, before people are re-housed into their own tenancy,” he added.
“It is key that families and households are able to live in the wider community without fear.”