Nearly one third of homeless families in temporary accommodation in London have been switched outside of their boroughs, according to a new report.
A Freedom of Information request has indicated that 47,137 households were being homed temporarily by 32 local authorities from March to August 2015. Figures show that 15,795 of these households were actually placed outside of the boroughs responsible for housing them.
London Councils have acknowledged that authorities are in the middle of a housing crisis. Kensington and Chelsea and Waltham Forest councils both said that they had housed in excess of two thirds of temporary households outside of their borders.
Hammersmith and Fulham housed homeless people across 28 other London boroughs, with Wandsworth doing the same in 26 regions.
Naomi Emmanuel and her two-year-old daughter Kira are amongst the 30,000 households with children currently living in temporary accommodation in the capital. Miss Emmanuel ended up homeless following the death of her mother.
Explaining her ordeal, she said that she has been moved five times over two years between three separate London boroughs, something that, understandably, proved unsettling for her child.
‘I had to take her out of nursery with a day’s warning. I had to quit a job with a day’s warning,’ said Emmanuel. ‘If I could afford private renting I would definitely have done that instead of being placed wherever the council feels like placing us.’
‘I like being in control of my own life which is why I worked and studied to be in control of my future,’ she continued, before saying that it is, ‘unnerving, having to wait for a letter to find out where we’re going to be moved.’
The Freedom of Information results show that 25 out of 31 councils moved homeless households to other parts of the South East. Eight councils moved people into temporary accommodation in the Midlands and even to the north of England.
Kate Webb, from housing charity Shelter, said that despite families being able to request a review of their case, they have no choice of where they could eventually end up. ‘If you are sent to Birmingham and you refuse to go, the council can say you have intentionally made yourself homeless,’ she explained.
Mr Melaku Ader was moved to Liverpool after finding himself without accommodation following the conclusion of his contract working on the development of the Olympic Stadium. He is now living in a homeless hostel in the capital. ‘I had many friends in London. When I went to Liverpool it was too hard for me to find friends and enjoy life. It was just me,’ he said.
Third of homeless in capital moved out of boroughs
Newham and Brent had the highest number of households living in temporary accommodation. Brent was also the borough with the highest number of homeless households with children. Figures from the Freedom of Information Request showed that the longest time a household spent in temporary accommodation was 22 years in Tower Hamlets.
John Biggs, the council’s mayor, said that this period was, ‘shockingly unusual,’ with the wait for permanent accommodation normally around 7 years.
‘When we need to place homeless families we need to go somewhere that is affordable and very often these days that’s not in your own borough,’ Biggs commented. ‘It’s a continuing nightmare finding temporary accommodation for people. We need to work hard to get people into permanent housing.’
Merton and Westminster council have yet to respond to the Freedom of Information Requests but of the 32 that responded, 29 councils said that they had spent more than £358m in total on the provision of temporary accommodation from 2012 to 2015.
Leading the way was Enfield, spending in excess of £81m from 2012 to 2015. The Department for Communities and Local Government said it was the council’s responsibility the, ‘house families in settled accommodation as quickly as possible.’ In addition, it said it had already given them fresh tools to supply quality accommodation for families in the private sector.
A spokesperson for London Councils commented that local authorities in the capital were doing their upmost to, ‘give people a roof over their heads in the midst of a housing crisis.’