Homeless charity could be on the streets if council raises rents

A TOWER Hamlets charity for homeless people run by volunteers who have previously lived on the streets faces closure if the council pushes through rent rises.

Turnaround Resources E1, based in the Montefiore Centre in Hanbury Street, Whitechapel, gives homeless people access to computers to look for jobs and online courses.

The building, which houses nine other charities or voluntary groups, is contracted out to the Spitalfields Small Business Association by Tower Hamlets council but at a time of cuts, council officers are considering other property managers to increase revenues.

Stephen Maybery, a volunteer at Turnaround, said: “We currently pay �1375 per month for two 20 ft square rooms.

“A commercial rent could be double that amount.

“That would put us out of business. We have sufficient money to last for twelve months but a rent increase would knock us off the board.”

The charity, run by six people who have all been homeless at one point, has 26 computers available from 9am to 7pm which Mr Maybery says are used by around 400 homeless people on a regular basis.

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He said: ““They listen to us because they know that we know what they’ve been through.”

Tenants met with council officers and bidding groups, including Aston-Mansfield and Ethical Property on February 10.

Mr Maybery said: “The feeling in the meeting was pretty angry and at the end we took a unanimous vote of confidence in the current management.

“The bidding groups skirted around the whole issue of rents.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The council is in the process of market testing the management of the building.

“We are aware that the building is occupied predominantly by charities and voluntary groups and so we have ring fenced the market testing to social enterprises.”