Plans to open a shelter near Manchester’s Green Quarter offering homeless men support services and a pathway into living independently have encountered local opposition, reports the Manchester Evening News.
MCR Property Group and the Manchester Homeless Partnership want to provide accommodation for 31 ‘low-risk’ individuals from vacant buildings north of the city centre on Lord Street.
The number of people presenting as homeless in Manchester has reached and is exceeding pre-Covid levels, with thousands – including families and children – living in temporary accommodation such as bed and breakfasts. Under plans submitted to Manchester council, tenants would stay in ensuite bedrooms while also sharing communal lounges, kitchens and meeting spaces.
Staff would be onsite on a 24-hour basis to monitor those staying at the centre, while also helping them to develop skills, search for jobs and apply for benefits. The NHS has also expressed an interest in taking over a proposed healthcare facility within the building, which will only house people assessed as low risk and will not allow self-referrals.
But the scheme, which has been recommended for approval by Manchester council officers, has received 18 objections, mainly from people living in the Green Quarter nearby. In a report going before the planning committee, one objector claimed: “Homelessness accommodation would lead to increased antisocial behaviour and crime. This location is not appropriate next to city centre flats with young professionals and families. It would be detrimental to the quality of life for residents and depress investment in the area.” Other objectors have raised concerns about existing issues of antisocial behaviour relating to rough sleepers, as well as the safety of women walking near the centre.
Manchester council officers say they are satisfied with the operational management plan set out by the applicant, which includes around-the-clock staffing and CCTV. The report also says that the accommodation would be managed by an experienced provider that is already operating in the sector on behalf of MCR Property Group.
A statement provided with the application says: “The proposals support the concept that individuals should be helped to move on to more permanent accommodation and should be steered in the right direction to ensure that homelessness is not repeated. The provision of a clear pathway out of homeless accommodation is acutely recognised by the applicant and within the proposals put forward there is a clear aim for residents of the centre to be provided with the skills and connections in order for them to find a permanent home as soon as possible, a key factor in the success and effectiveness for this level of accommodation.”