Council searching southern England for homes for homeless families
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Local Government
Charity calls for rent cap as 600 families face being made homeless
Croydon Council is searching southern England for properties as it seeks to fix its homelessness crisis.
The council's specially assembled housing supply taskforce has already secured 89 new properties.
The number of families in temporary accommodation in Croydon has risen by 30% in the last year compared to an increase of less than 5% in London and 7% in England.
Of the 89 new found properties, the vast majority are in Croydon, with a few in Bromley and Kent.
The council has taken the action in an attempt to prevent fewer families being placed into bed and breakfast accommodation.
In an interview with the Croydon Advertiser, the council's chief executive, Jon Rouse, explained that addressing homelessness had become the council's number one priority.
He said: "There is a housing crisis in Croydon and we're not going to try and pretend there isn't.
"For a whole set of circumstances, Croydon has become a hotspot in terms of a lack of housing availability.
"Unless there is a very rapid economic recovery, which leads to a significant fall in joblessness, then the likelihood is that homeless numbers are going to get worse before they get better."
The council was previously able to combat homelessness by providing private rented accommodation, but the supply has dried up following the downturn in the housing market.
Only 11 private rented properties were allocated directly to homeless households in the first seven months of 2012/13.
Councillor Dudley Mead, cabinet member for housing, said: "It is the council’s priority to reduce the number of families currently staying in bed and breakfast accommodation.
"Yet the supply of private rented housing available to the council in which to place homeless families has dried up.
"While we would prefer to keep households in Croydon, the reality is we have to look further afield. Therefore we have launched a dedicated housing supply taskforce to find more homes which will ease the burden on both families and the council.”
As well as putting together its housing taskforce, the council is also trying to tackle the homelessness crisis by:
• Building new council homes with 102 in the last four years and a further 42 units in the pipeline
• Converting redundant council buildings into residential accommodation such as former children’s homes
• Bringing empty properties back into use
• Improving incentives for landlords to rent to the council through schemes such as Croylease and Croybond
• Establishing a lodging scheme for young homeless pregnant women and mothers with young children
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