How to Respond to a Local Housing Emergency

A Practical Guide

  • By Alex Sewell

This guidance has been commissioned jointly by the London Local Authorities’ Panel (LAP) and London Housing Directors’ Group to inform emergency housing resilience guidance, training and partnership arrangements for London Boroughs in responding to large-scale evacuation and rehousing incidents.

The aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017 and a number of subsequent fires and evacuations in other parts of London in 2018 and 2019 highlighted the need for additional guidance to Housing Directors in London boroughs regarding best practice in responding to and recovering from larger-scale emergencies that result in large numbers of residents being rehoused temporarily, sometimes for very extensive periods of time.

Then, in early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a national lockdown and a Ministerial “everyone in” call for local authorities to provide emergency accommodation to rough sleepers and all those threatened with homelessness. London Boroughs and the GLA acted quickly to accommodate over 5,000 people, mostly in hotels otherwise vacated during the lockdown.

This document is intended to complement other emergency planning documents and forms the basis for live training discussions and exercises in individual boroughs, between groups of boroughs and with partner organisations, such as registered providers of social housing. Its purpose is to improve resilience, in terms of readiness to rehouse large numbers of people in an emergency.

Alex Sewell, Special Projects Lead, Housing and Planning