Figures from a new Greenwich Council report show yet another increase in those classified as homeless and living in temporary accommodation in the borough.
In Quarter 2 of this year 1,186 people were living in temporary accommodation. That’s up from 1,131 in the preceding three months. Not only does this offer a lack of security for residents, but it also costs vast sums to taxpayers.
There was also a fall in the percentage of households accepted as homeless rehoused; down from 36.8 per cent to 31.2 per cent.
A number of failures at both national and local level have contributed to the ever-worsening picture.
Central Government have pushed Right to Buy yet cut spending on social housing leading to a reduction in stock. Unlike the 1980s councils can re-invest proceeds, but it’s capped at 30 per cent on any given project. Greenwich Council have mostly used income to buy existing homes at high prices limiting additional stock numbers – and pushing out buyers in places helping to increase prices.
Locally Greenwich Council have also been selling land and buildings and allocating income towards their Creative District in Woolwich.
Where they have retained land and plan to build, the number of homes planned is sometimes extremely low. As I covered recently, the latest example is a large disused garage site in Plumstead near good public transport links in a mid to high density area. They plan just four homes.
If the land was the be built at four floors with maisonettes – like other housing is around it – and less parking spaces, the number of homes provided could be tripled. The reason given for such low numbers of homes on site was that some people locally – often already with secure housing – didn’t want anything more than extremely low density.
Underusing precious sites (there aren’t exactly many of them left) is a factor in contributing to ever more people stuck in short term emergency accommodation. Add it to central Government and everyone pays – whether its those directly in need or those paying tax which is funding emergency accommodation due to a lack of council housing.
Oh, and of course the infamous “viability reports” are a factor too when it comes to new developments. They often states that sizeable amounts of affordable housing is not possible at new-build plots, let alone social housing, which adds to the problem. Just this week I covered the next stage of Greenwich Millennium Village which is based on a 2014-approved masterplan. Affordable housing is set at 15 per cent.