Homegrown charity DENS has been given the green light to manage a 41-bed shelter for the homeless which could eradicate rough sleeping in Dacorum.
The futuristic-looking build, next to Aldi on Redbourn Road, Hemel Hempstead, is being build by Dacorum Borough Council thanks to £850,000 worth of central government funding through its Places of Change programme.
Work began on the temporary emergency accommodation – which will feature residential space, an IT suite, library and a communal garden – at the start of the year, and building work by Durkan Ltd is expected to be finished by April.
DENS, which already runs services for the homeless and needy in Dacorum including a smaller night shelter, day centre, Rent Aid and foodbank, is expected to begin operations in the new build from May.
Chief executive Andrew Liversidge said: “We are very excited to have been chosen to run the new Elms site, it has been a culmination of eight years hard work and it means that we will be able to provide a better service to those most vulnerable people within our society.
“We relish the opportunity to work closely with the housing department at Dacorum Borough Council to provide the very highest levels of service to anyone who needs us.”
DENS was one of several charities bidding to run The Elms and needed to demonstrate expertise in a wide range of areas to convince the panel at Dacorum Borough Council, who were looking for a high quality of service provision.
The local authority’s strategic housing team will be working closely with DENS on the emergency accommodation service from next month.
The borough council’s portfolio holder for housing Margaret Griffiths said: “This is a fantastic new development that will provide some of the most vulnerable people in our community with a safe place to sleep and help get their lives back on track.
“The size of this homeless hostel will give us the ability to eliminate rough sleeping within our borough and DENS will be able to use their experience and local knowledge to really make a difference to everyone who stays there.”
South West Herts MP David Gauke congratulated DENS on the achievement. He said: “DENS has an excellent record in helping vulnerable people throughout Dacorum.
“Winning the Elms contract is testament to all that has been achieved in the past as well as providing an opportunity for DENS to do more in the future.”
Hemel Hempstead’s MP Mike Penning added: “I am simply thrilled that DENS have rightly won the contract to run the new Homeless Hostel at The Elms. “For a local charity to have been awarded such an important contract shows their clear dedication and professionalism and empathy in such an important and vital facility.
“What a fantastic Christmas present for them and for those most vulnerable in society.”
Sponsorship packages to support the hostel’s launch and running costs are available for local businesses by contacting fundraising@DENS.org.uk or calling 01442 800268.
For more about DENS, visit www.dens.org.uk.