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Homelessness in Greenwich borough keeps rising – another £2.9 million being spent

A standard east Greenwich street. Homes here now beyond the reach of most people

Figures before Greenwich Council’s Cabinet next week paint a bleak picture of housing in the borough with 1,200 households now in temporary accommodation. This is up from 909 the previous year.

Click to enlarge. Detailed figures from council report in early in 2019 showing homeless increase

Those in emergency overnight accommodation have also increased. Aside from worry and often poor housing conditions for those in need, the high cost of temporary accommodation and ongoing lack of council housing to meet demand continues to cost local taxpayers dearly with another £2.9 million needing to be found – in addition to existing budgets.

From latest council report

The report states purchasing existing homes is being pursued – which is the most expensive means of providing housing.

Some London council’s are trying other measures. I recently covered how Hackney Council managed to gain the equivalent of six new social housing units in a new-build block for the same price that Greenwich spend purchasing just one existing home off the market.

Increase in use of temporary accommodation throughout 2018

The Mayor of Hackney has established a Housing Challenge Fund to forge close links with Housing Associations and increase social housing in new-build blocks. This is essential as central Government cap use of right to buy income on new builds at 30 per cent, so partnerships are necessary to secure the additional 70 per cent.

Doing so results in fewer so-called “affordable” flats available at high cost, such as that seen in new Peabody flats in Thamesmead, and more genuinely affordable homes. A small 1-bed at the Reach development is costing £280,000 outright, or shared ownership which results in a mortgage plus rent of £481 a month and then a monthly £157 service charge. It’s beyond the reach of many.

Callis Yard tower on left on former council site. Riverside House on right recently sold

Greenwich Council have been selling land and buildings to fund projects such as a refurbished Plumstead library rather than securing outside funding as neighbouring boroughs have managed at similar projects. Income from building sales such as Riverside House in Woolwich are also heading to fund the Creative District at Woolwich.

The authority make a big play on 750 council homes starting by 2022 but this is far below need, what with 1,200 classified as homeless and nearly 20,000 on the waiting list.

Central Government continue to compound the problem with strict caps on council building, lack of funding and pushing right to buy. The claims of one-for-one replacement made when right to buy discounts were increased have never come anywhere close to being met. Families in need and taxpayers are picking up the cost.

14 Comments

  1. Ashley

    Greenwich lack any innovative ideas to decrease the ever growing housing waiting list.

    They should never of sold Riverside house to private hands. This is an opportunity of renovating a purpose build block that could of easily been transferred to Meridian Home Start or funds could of been spent to convert into 1-2 or even 3 bed apartments for social rent.

    All we see from Labour run Greenwich is waste of public funds on meaningless projects and selling of council owned properties or land which could be used to build new affordable council housing or a joint venture with housing associations.

    • HK

      I agree, yet labour still get re-elected.
      Time to vote for other parties to show them not you take our votes for granted!

  2. Greenwich Park Fan

    Do the above commenters think a Conservative council in Greenwich would build more social housing? Where is the evidence for that?

    • HK

      Not necessarily. You don’t have to vote for Conservative 🙂
      If Labour start losing their majority, they’ll won’t be so complacent and start working for our votes rather than take them for granted.
      As they say, you can stick a Labour rosette on a donkey in Greenwich and people would still vote for them such is the tribal nature of politics!

      • Ashley

        HK you’ve hit the nail on the head. Agree 100%. They are Very complacent and neglectful after 49 years in administration. Labour need to be shaken up with a loss of majority. Fresh ideas and governance is truly needed. People need to get in their mind set Labour is failing. So a conservative run Greenwich would be a damn sight better! Or any other party should be given the chance.

    • The Tories would do no better than Labour.

      The rot set in with Mrs Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ bribe to voters. Further, the Tories have failed to deliver the 200,000 homes for first time buyers that was in its 2015 manifesto – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/nov/05/tories-broke-pledge-on-starter-homes-in-2015-manifesto-report-says – so there is absolutely no chance of it embarking on a social housing building programme.

      • Comment by post author

        fromthemurkydepths

        Indeed its Conservative policy from central govt that is much of the problem.

        Those “starter homes” were no solution but another bung to developers. Space and light standards would have been thrown out to create tiny homes sold at 20% discount to other new build homes – though other new builds are 20% above local market averages in many places. So in effect the tiny boxes would have been the same price as other existing homes. Great for developers.

  3. Anon cause I have to be

    To add to GP Fan’s comment. The Conservatives have been in power for 10 years and in that time homelessness has gone through the roof throughout the country. There is no one else to blame for this.
    I’m not a fan of Greenwich Council. I support voting and peoples rights to choose who represents them….but the Conservative’s are definitely not a solution to this problem.

  4. DISAPPOINTED

    What with the lack of focus on the parking violations, the dire state of the public realms, the inability of the council to provide a decent high street within the entire borough, the proposed Silvertown tunnel, the growing air pollution, the dangerous roads for cyclist and pedestrians, the cuts in social services, the proposed reduction of the refuge service, non/limited checks on the slum landlords , the shortage of the social housing, the lack of roads for the growing traffic, the mis-management and wastage of the council funds, the exceptionally slow pace of decision making and finally the corrupt councillor……….How much worse does it have to get before we consider a new administration. Yes I agree that the Conservatives may not do much better but to prove a point they are at least likely to try. It’s not as if the current administration has raised the bar that high.

    Some of you may say I should not be so harsh. You could be right, they have at least provided a £100k TV in Woolwich, so the undesirables can come out of the betting shops and watch TV all day…… RBG promoting the work ethic.

    As there is no opportunity for Dan Thorp to take a selfie within this post, I guess we won’t hear from him or anyone in his team.

    A change has got to come!

  5. Graham

    Totally agree with all of the above. Also as a final insult they tend to ignore people born bred and who have lived in the Borough all their lives when it comes to social housing.

    These people along with the elderly sick and disabled should be the four top priority groups for any Council.

    Single people especially men born and bred in the Borough and have lived in the Borough all their lives are also largely ignored by the council when it comes to housing again it is so wrong on so many levels.

    i think how they allocated social housing in Greenwich needs to be urgently reviewed.

  6. CDT

    I totally agree. Single people are penalised through out their lives as are those who do more to help themselves by working and saving for pensions etc.

    A lot of homeless people come to Greenwich for housing from other London Boroughs and from further a field as many are estranged from their families.

    We also have three prisons located nearby in Thamesmead and a lot of prisoners are released homeless and are required to be housed.

    So there are a lot of other factors to be taken in to account when figures get released around homelessness.

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