A project to house homeless people for individuals who cannot access benefits has opened its doors 14 months after it was first announced.

Redbridge Council, in partnership with the Salvation Army, officially launched Malachi Place – previously known as Project Malachi – on Monday, February 24.

The £5 million centre in Ilford is made up of 42 self-contained flats. The flats are volumetric modular units - building elements that can be linked together to form complete buildings - made from steel and timber.

It is the facility in London built to specifically support rough sleepers who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) – individuals who cannot access benefits, homelessness assistance or social housing.

The Salvation Army will provide 24-hour on-site support for residents to help them deal with issues that led them to sleeping rough, like domestic violence, childhood trauma, relationship breakdown, as well as mental ill health.

Leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal, said: “This is definitely my proudest moment as Leader of Redbridge Council. Everyone should be able to go to sleep at night, safe in the knowledge that they won’t come to any harm. That’s why we’ve invested in this facility, which is the first time a council-backed housing scheme in London will include support for those who would not usually qualify for housing help.

The development has been named Malachi Place in recognition of Malachi Justin, a ten-year-old boy who became concerned about people sleeping rough in Ilford.

When his first baby tooth fell out at the age of five-years-old, Malachi gave his £5 tooth fairy money to the local Salvation Army, along with a note asking them to spend it on helping homeless people.

Captain, Dr John Clifton, The Salvation Army’s leader in Ilford, said: “Malachi’s donation and note really challenged us to do more for the people forced to sleep rough in Ilford. For many years we have offered emergency shelter to Ilford’s street community and while we could offer food and shelter we knew it wasn’t enough.

“People end up sleeping rough for lots of complex reasons and it could be anything from job loss or poor health to addiction. Malachi gave us the focus to think about how we could build homes and provide support to get residents back to independent living.

“It is our ambition to see it replicated in other parts of the country. If Malachi can start this from just £5, others can follow his path. We are also grateful to Redbridge Council who paid the construction costs.”

Among the first residents moving into Malachi Place is Frank Wrona, aged 40, a recovering addict originally from the north of England who has been sleeping rough on and off for three years. Since taking control of his addictions, Frank has been desperate to find a place to live and get a permanent job.

Frank said: “I just want to get settled and move on with my life so getting a room at Malachi Place gets me one step closer to achieving that.”

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