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Welfare reforms mean Hackney families in temporary accommodation have ‘no real prospect’ of getting home in borough

PUBLISHED: 14:11 17 November 2017

An aerial view of Hackney around Mare Street. People in temporary accommodation have no real prospect of being able to afford a home in the borough, officers said at a town hall meeting. Picture: Google Maps

An aerial view of Hackney around Mare Street. People in temporary accommodation have no real prospect of being able to afford a home in the borough, officers said at a town hall meeting. Picture: Google Maps

Archant

Many of Hackney’s 3,000 families stuck in temporary accommodation have no real prospect of getting an affordable home in the borough, according to a council chief.

A file image of estate agent's boards in London. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive A file image of estate agent's boards in London. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

The average wait for a permanent home in Hackney for anyone in a hostel or other short-term arrangement is three to four years.

But at a town hall meeting last month officers said the benefits many of the families were on meant they would be unlikely to ever secure an affordable home – and that the welfare reforms and introduction of Universal Credit were only making things worse.

Kay Brown, the director of customer services, said the crisis had led to the need for “difficult but honest” discussions with households about their options. It was also revealed almost a third of Hackney’s families in temporary accommodation – 900 – had been placed outside of the borough.

They are being housed in areas including Croydon, Essex and Broxbourne because of the lack of available homes in the borough – itself a consequence of families having to stay longer in Hackney’s own temporary homes.

Heather Kennedy of Digs on the steps of Hackney Town Hall. Picture: James Pitman Heather Kennedy of Digs on the steps of Hackney Town Hall. Picture: James Pitman

Heather Kennedy of Digs, which campaigns for renters in Hackney, commended the town hall for being upfront and said more councils should speak out against the “inhumane” government welfare reforms.

“We applaud Hackney for being honest about this and would really like to see much more of councils in London being honest about what people living in temporary accommodation can expect,” she said.

“Having to leave is terrible for people who have been in these communities their entire lives. It’s everything they know.

“What’s really galling about it is every piece of government policy being passed is making the situation worse, not better.”

Heather is holding out hope the government backtracks on Universal Credit in Wednesday’s autumn budget.

A Camden officer also spoke at the “Living in Hackney” scrutiny meeting about a scheme in his borough that works to prevent families in the private sector becoming homeless.

The “prevention” route sees them offered alternative homes in the private sector in exchange for more points on the housing list should they later end up homeless. It’s a model Hackney said it would be looking at.

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