Producing more homes resurrecting empty properties

Former rough sleeper Bill is now the proud occupant of a flat where he can start to rebuild his life, see his grandchildren and plan a brighter future.

Just over two years ago, 66-year-old Bill Murphy was living on the streets. He is an alcoholic and suffers from severe back problems, and didn’t have enough money to get out of the vicious cycle he found himself in: “When you get in that situation it’s very hard to get yourself back out… you need someone to give you a hand.”

Fortunately, after living in temporary and then shared accommodation, Bill was given the opportunity to have a place of his own when he was assessed as being eligible for the GLA funded scheme run by Cromwood Housing and Thames Reach. Cromwood have purchased one bed properties throughout London to offer to rough sleepers who have gone through the GLA Clearing House and considered to be suitable for independent living with some initial floating support.

Bill was offered a one bedroom flat in Carshalton, a town in south London, right by the River Wandle. “Two minutes outside your front door you wouldn’t believe you were in London,” he says. It’s even in the same area that he grew up in, so Bill knows the people and the place well – his childhood home is just a 20 minute walk away.

And it’s made a big difference – both to Bill’s daily life and to his outlook. “It was life changing, I’m a hell of a lot happier,” he says.

Since having a space to call home, Bill’s drinking has significantly reduced, and he keeps the flat spick and span – no washing in the sink or dirty clothes lying around. “I’m very proud of my place,” he says. And he also enjoys having his children and grandchildren over to visit.

Cromwood has been able to purchase over 300 properties in the last two years which have been used to house rough sleepers. The tenants are supported by Thames Reach to make sure the tenancy is sustained by providing advice and assistance individually tailored for each tenant.

As for Bill, over the next few months he’s planning to spruce up his flat with his son – to put down some new flooring and “splash a bit of paint around”. The future looks bright, in more ways than one!