Campaign begins to ‘Save Occasio House’

Politics / Tue 17th May 2016 pm31 04:18pm

The Occasio house complext is located opposite the Harlow Playhouse

The Occasio House complex is located opposite the Harlow Playhouse

By Eric White

THE planned closure of the Occasio House site in Harlow is being met with a campaign to try and save it.

Essex County Council will soon vote on a proposal to cut support funding for homeless and vulnerable young people within the community and a petition entitled ‘Save Occasio house’ has been set up on change.org.

The petition, found at the address www.change.org/p/save-occasio-house, has been up for two days and currently has 381 signatures at the time of writing this article, with 500 being the target.

Occasio House, found opposite the Playhouse, made up of 116 properties, offer accommodation to young single homeless people with support needs and also people who are at risk between the ages of 16-24.

It is predicted more than 100 people will be moved from their homes if the plans go ahead in October (previously was September) as planned.

Campaigner Jake Shepherd, Harlow, who set up the petition, said: “We now have clear support from councillors, activists, local experts and the residents of Occasio House to begin a campaign which is specific to Harlow’s community and focused on bringing to light the detrimental impacts of 100 young people becoming homeless.

”We aim to pressure East Thames Housing to reverse its decision to evict these young people as well as pressure Essex County Council in granting assurances that the like for like services being provided won’t be lost.”

There is also a facebook page www.facebook.com/saveoccasiohouse set up by the Occasio House community supporting the campaign.

The closure of the foyer has been pushed back to the end of October, however it is still due to go ahead as Essex County Council and East Thames feel the building is not sustainable for the large amount of young people living there.

On the 25th January this year, Your Harlow reported that Sumners councillor Nick Churchill described the projects as an “intolerable mess” further indicating the site has been a divisive issue, in Harlow, due to factors such as littering, for some time. He expressed his dismay that a minority of those littering were tarnishing the reputation of the area and that it was not in eyes a majority who were responsible.

Nevertheless, the plans at the moment are due to go ahead with East Thames saying in a letter to residents back in March:

“The foyer model provides accommodation and support for maximum of two years to enable young people to move on to more independent living.

“This large scale approach is difficult to manage, and it is the view of both East Thames and Essex County Council that the model of support offered at Harlow Foyer is now longer sustainable in its current form.

“We have therefore agreed that Harlow Foyer will no longer provide supported accommodation services after September (now October) 2016.”


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