Greenwich Council has seen a new high for homeless households in temporary and emergency housing according to a new report as numbers reach 1,880.
The authority are now spending £800,000 a month of Travelodge rooms as a shortage of homes hits councils.
A report before Greenwich Council’s Cabinet next week states that the 1,880 figures “was the highest number ever recorded and was 225 higher than the same point one year prior, representing an increase by 13.5% in one year.”
That’s up from 740 in 2018/19 –
Temporary and emergency housing is limited in number with ever fewer available in London – and costs are extremely high. The council now highlights that at the end of Quarter 1 this financial year (June 2023) that there is “a projected overspend on Emergency Overnight Accommodation (EOA), including hotels and units procured from specialist providers of nightly paid TA, of £11,430,200 is forecast, this includes additional budget funding of £3,000,000 to address inflationary cost pressures.”
Many more people are now in hotels with 200 now placed. The number of families was 125 “including at least one child living in Bed and Breakfast hotels, including shared “annexes” and commercial hotels. At the end of June 2022 this figure was 12.”
The report notes London’s population has risen by 800,000 since 2010 (and that likely includes a large rise over the previous year) yet housebuilding has lagged far behind.
Alongside that council estates have been demolished with fewer social homes available when rebuilt. Right to Buy has also sharply reduced social housing.
The report states that the average cost per night in Travelodge is “around £120 per night”. The company are looking to build another hotel in Greenwich.
Greenwich state they will seek to stop the use of Travelodge rooms.
Another £1 million is being spent on non-chain hotels.
Council’s in London are now having to compete ever more with each other but also the Home Office who are outbidding local authorities. The head of London Council’s have requested the Home Office stop doing so. Southwark Council also also raised objections to Home Office practices via their contractor.
Underlying the issue is a severe lack of housing built in London for decades. That has seen ever growing pressure which in the recent past has hit crises point.
Central governments of all parties in power have not funded low cost homes in any great numbers for 40 years and Viability Reports make it extremely difficult to gain substantial totals of truly affordable homes in a development.
Buying existing homes
Yet even when there is money, councils have often been buying existing homes rather than using funds to build new properties – in turn reducing available homes for rent. Many homes being bought would be at the lower end and in turn could see private renters evicted.
Once evicted, the shortage of homes to rent and higher costs then places them at risk of homelessness and joining that ever bigger demand for emergency and temporary housing – further fuelling costs.
Despite this Lewisham are buying 300 homes while their own land in areas like Besson Street is to be developed with zero truly affordable housing.
The report states Greenwich have purchased 550 existing homes since 2017 and will now look to buy more. That’s many homes now not available to private renters.
They too have given the green light for public land to be built on with barely any social housing. See the housing element of the new leisure centre in Woolwich.
They chose developer Hill as their housing partner and out of almost 500 new homes just 24 will be net new social homes.
Buying existing homes instead of building new doesn’t really solve the issue in the mid-term but is merely plate spinning. Solve the problem of one family in temporary housing by buying a house – and in turn make others homeless.
Add these factors together and the crises is getting ever worse.