It's not just a London problem—it’s a national problemby Prospect Team / February 25, 2020 / Leave a comment
The story of the housing crisis can be told in numbers—and it can be told through the impact on those struggling to find a secure, affordable and permanent home.
The numbers, first. In London—from Lewisham to Wandsworth, and from Tower Hamlets to Ealing via Southwark—the problem of homeless is stark. Five years ago, 2,000 people were homeless in Tower Hamlets. Today it’s 2,600. In Southwark, where 3,000 children are growing up in temporary accommodation, the housing waiting list stands at 11,000. In Ealing—waiting list: 9,000—the council is only able to place 200 families in social housing each year. And in Lewisham—waiting list: 10,000—there are 2,204 people in temporary shelter. “Housing is not a luxury, it is a right for everybody,” notes Councillor Paul Bell, cabinet member for housing at Lewisham Council. Bell was taking part in a specially-convened Prospect roundtable, supported by EDAROTH a new subsidiary of Atkins in January.
This is not just a London problem—it’s a national problem. Across the country, the housing charity Shelter estimates that one in 200 people are homeless. A city like Bristol, for example, shares many of the issues described above: families on emergency housing lists and snaking social housing waiting lists. Nevertheless, the concentration of demand in London and the south east is particularly acute. Drawing on Shelter figures again, the homeless rate in London is one in every 50.
The figures alone can numb the senses. Consider instead what this insecurity does to individuals, especially the young. The vagaries of temporary accommodation mean many miss out on early years education and will have further to travel to primary and secondary school. And what happens when they transition to adulthood? “Just as the tide comes in daily so generation after generation, year after year there will be another wave of young people looking for accommodation,” says Paul Morrish, CEO, LandAid.
LandAid estimates that 4,000 young people sleep rough every year. “If you are a young student and you go to university or college there is a housing offer. There are companies making large amounts of profit providing high-quality, curated student accommodation. But if you are not a student, there is no housing offer. If you are an apprentice there is no housing offer,” says Morrish. “As a consequence, young people will stay at home for longer.” The result is economic and societal. Economic…