Homeless man finds flat after seven months living in tent
8th April 2015
A homeless man who spent winter camped in a park has swapped his tent for a flat after a lettings agent read about his plight.
Steven Mattin, 43, finally has a roof over his head following seven months living in South Norwood Country Park.
Croydon Council had refused to house Mr Mattin, who has epilepsy and earns minimum wage distributing newspapers, because he did not fit its "criteria".
But Caridon Property Services offered him a home after one of its employees read about his story in the Croydon Guardian last month.
The agency helped Mr Mattin apply for emergency funding to pay for a deposit and advance on a one-bedroom flat in Hermitage Road, South Norwood, and apply for housing benefit to cover some of the £724 rent.
He said: "It is fantastic. It makes everything a bit easier.
"I just don't want to be in that situation again.
Mr Mattin had been forced to live in a tent for seven months
"I have got my own front door and everything. I have my own bed instead of a camp bed - although it's harder to get up in the morning now."
Mr Mattin has worked 15 hours a week for the past two years handing out City AM newspapers outside Thornton Heath rail station.
But he was left homeless in July after occasional shifts working as a waiter meant he lost some of his benefits and could no longer afford the £700 rent on his room in Hounslow.
Susan Passman, the housing benefit manager at Caridon who responded to Mr Mattin's story, said: "He fell through the system really. He had his Croydon connections and suffered with epilepsy as well, so is obviously a poorly man.
She added: "There is not enough help out there for single men. They don't have babies, they're not in any great need, so nobody picks them up. I don't think there is enough advice for them or places they can go.
"If you were a vulnerable lady with children you'd be put in a B&B but because you're a man on your own you have to fend for yourself, which isn't fair because everyone needs somewhere to live."
Mr Mattin thanked the agency's staff for coming to his rescue, but remains angry that the council refused to help him.
He said: "It just stank. It really stank. Croydon Council could have just given me a phone number weeks ago. But I suppose it takes it going in the paper for something to happen."
He had been told to leave the park by a mystery man claiming to be a council employee, although the council denied trying to evict him.
A council spokesman said: “When it comes to specialist housing support, the council has to give priority to people with the most challenging health and employment prospects, and our thorough assessment found Mr Mattin did not fit those criteria.
“We recommended that he either go into private accommodation locally or contact boroughs where he has stronger connections if he still wishes to pursue specialist housing support.”