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Housing crisis affects more households in London

  • By Jim Ranger

London boroughs are developing increasingly innovative ways of tackling the capital’s homelessness crisis, as government statistics show a rise in households without a home.

London has 75 per cent of the households in temporary accommodation in England.

Newly-released figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) show the number of households living in temporary accommodation in London increased by 11 per cent to 48,240 at the end of March 2015, compared to the same time last year (43,310).

Boroughs also took on legal responsibility for housing 4,390 households between January and March this year, up by nine per cent from the same period in 2014 (4,030).

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, London Councils’ Executive member for housing, said: “Tackling homelessness is one of the biggest challenges facing London today.

“Services are feeling the strain and so boroughs are working in ever-more innovative ways with local partners to support some of London’s most vulnerable people.

“But they must be given more power and financial freedom to increase the supply of housing otherwise this situation will get worse.”

The full government statistics are available here.

ENDS

Case studies

Croydon Council/Real Lettings

Croydon Council is working with homelessness charity St Mungo’s Broadway and social investment company Resonance to support Real Lettings, a social lettings agency that helps people at risk of homelessness to lead more independent lives. The agency is funded by social investors – including Croydon Council – and purchases properties through the Real Lettings Property Fund.

The properties are owned by the Fund and leased by Real Lettings, before the investor takes full ownership of the property after seven years. Tenants are offered practical advice and coaching to increase their independence, help them to get a job and address other issues such as a lack of social integration.

In its first year, Real Lettings helped all of its tenants maintain their tenancies for at least six months, all but one of its tenants who were eligible for work found employment, and two-thirds of tenants showed signs of greater social integration after the first three months of tenancy.

Real Lettings also includes an innovative empty homes scheme which brings properties from a state of disrepair into usable social housing, as well as a private rented sector home finder scheme for those at risk of becoming homeless.

Lewisham Council/modular homes

Lewisham Council is piloting a new approach to providing temporary accommodation on vacant development land through the commissioning the off-site construction of ‘pop-up homes’ for use as temporary accommodation.

This reusable temporary housing costs less than alternative forms of construction and allows the council to locate structures onto vacant sites while longer-term plans are developed. Using these ‘pop-up homes’ Lewisham Council is able to create flexible structures for a range of future uses.    

The scheme is being developed with the objective of paying for itself in eight years – in part due to savings made from moving households out of bed and breakfast accommodation. The technology would enable the council to pack up the structures and move them to other vacant plots, which would be particularly useful during large-scale regeneration projects.