The use of private bed and breakfast accomodation to house homeless Croydon families for longer than the legal period of six weeks has severely increased since 2011, according to figures obtained by EastLondonLines.
A Freedom of Information request revealed that in 2011 there were just five cases where families had spent more than the legal limit in B&B accomodation in the borough. But in 2012, this rocketed to 70 cases and there have already been 71 cases so far in 2013.
The consequence of this is that since the start of the current financial year, Croydon Council has spent over £1 million of taxpayer’s money on B&B accommodation for homeless families.
A spokeswoman for Croydon Council said: “Like many local authorities, the council is currently experiencing a shortage of temporary accommodation and we are having to make greater use of emergency accommodation such as bed and breakfasts to house homeless families.
“Until around 2008/9, the council was able to source private rented accommodation, which provided sufficient properties to meet the demand for general needs temporary accommodation and homeless prevention. “
The council blames the economic downturn and its impact on the housing market for the lack of private rented properties available to the council. The council has also been considering housing homeless families outside the borough, as ELL reported here
The Council received more than 2200 applications from homeless people and families last year.
Figures released by Shelter shows that 8,758 households were on council housing waiting lists last year and 2086 households were in temporary accommodation in the 3rd quarter of 2012.
“It’s hard, it’s very, very hard,” said Racheal Wells, 26, a Croydon mother of three children under four years old, who has been housed in B&Bs since October 31.
Since January 7 she has been in what the council calls “emergency accommodation. ” She has no idea when she will be permanently re-housed: “It’s accommodation, it’s something alright for a holiday but not for a long period of time.”