Homeless families being leapfrogged for permanent housing by people in doomed Homerton blocks

Marian Court in Ponsford Street, Homerton. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Marian Court in Ponsford Street, Homerton. Picture: Emma Bartholomew - Credit: Emma Bartholomew

A decision to rehouse families living in soon-to-be demolished Homerton blocks means others on the waiting list will be leapfrogged.

Last month councillors signed off plans to knock down and rebuild Marian Court and Bridge House in Homerton High Street with five new blocks.

It will bring an increase of 140 homes, from 135 to 275 – although there will be five fewer at social rent (80) than there are now. The council admits it made a mistake when it told the Gazette last year there were only 66 social rent flats on the estate by forgetting to count 19 “uninhabitable” ones.

Tenants have already left the blocks, some having been forced out with compulsory purchase orders. Now it is being used as temporary accommodation for 42 homeless families.

Those who have lived there since before February 27 last year – 37 families – are set to be offered permanent homes by the council. The other five, who are low on the waiting list, will be moved elsewhere.

However, some Marian Court families being given permanent homes haven’t been on the 13,000-strong housing list nearly as long as others who are still waiting. The average time spent on the list is two and a half years.

One man told the Gazette it was unfair on people at the top of the list. “People are jumping the queue,” he said. “I know people who have been in temporary accommodation for four years [but] the last person [in Marian Court] who will get a permanent home was made homeless on February 20 last year.”

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He added: “I made a complaint and the council quoted a loophole they introduced in 2016 that gives them the power to offer permanent housing to anyone.”

The town hall insisted everyone being housed was near the top of the list and would be given a home to save moving them to another temporary place.

Housing chief Cllr Rebecca Rennison said: “Where a family has been in temporary accommodation for a long period, we will be offering them permanent homes to provide stability and avoid further disruption of a move into different temporary accommodation. More recent residents will be asked to move to different temporary home.”