Negotiations to create a new facility for Maidenhead’s homeless are in their final stages.
Plans to convert the Cemetery Lodge, in Braywick Cemetery, Braywick Road, into a halfway house run by the Brett Foundation are expected to be finalised by the end of the month.
On Friday, Sue Brett, one of the founders of the charity, carried out an inspection of the property, which is owned by the Royal Borough and has been refurbished at council expense as part of the scheme.
No one is believed to have lived in the building for about 15 years, but within months it is expected to be home to four homeless people preparing to move into a permanent home.
Mrs Brett said: “I can’t believe that after all the years I’ve nagged and bent ears it’s finally here.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and there’s still a lot to do – it’s not just a case of ‘we’ve got a house, let’s just get them in’.
“But it is the first step from being homeless to being able to support yourself and being in your own home.
“Being able to shower and eat when you want, without having to worry about where the next opportunity [to do so] is going to come from and also without the worry of whether someone is going to take it away from you.”
Although the council is preparing to hand the keys over, there is still work to do on the new facility, including an overhaul of the property’s garden, which will partly be carried out by the tenants themselves.
It is also still in need of furnishings, bedding and kitchen equipment, while running costs are expected to be £30-40,000 per year.
However, the importance of the scheme is widely recognised, with a report by the council stating: “Whilst the council will lose potential rental income on the commercial properties as a result of agreeing to the proposal, there will be a potential non-cashable benefit in more prevention work to avoid homelessness in the Royal Borough.”
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