Mayor announces accommodation plans for 10 homeless families

In Lewisham, 9,800 families are on the housing register waiting list. Pic: Bethany Opler

A building in Brockley, Lewisham is set to be transformed into temporary accommodation for 10 homeless families but figures show that this is just a drop in the ocean compared to the number of homes needed to solve Lewisham’s housing crisis.

Last week, Lewisham’s Mayor Damien Egan and cabinet approved the Brockley conversion that is set to be finished within the next 10 months, Covid-19 guidelines allowing.

With planning permission permitting the building will be converted into 10 self-contained homes compromising of two one bed flats, six two bed flats and two three bed flats which will all be completed by social housing provider, Lewisham Homes. 

There are currently 9,800 families on the housing register waiting list. Councillor Paul Bell, cabinet member for housing and planning, said: “Lewisham, along with the rest of London, is facing an unprecedented housing crisis. There are not enough genuinely affordable homes for those who need it.” 

According to the report, the conversion is a part of ‘Lewisham’s Housing Strategy’ that focuses on “delivering the homes that Lewisham needs and preventing homelessness.” 

With rising homelessness propelled by the ongoing pandemic, Lewisham council have revealed that they have spent £9.7m in the past two years on temporary accommodation.

The council told EastLondonLines: “We have around 2,500 households in temporary accommodation, with many families having to be accommodated outside the borough. This scheme will enable us to house more families in Lewisham.”

Throughout the borough, genuinely affordable homes are hard to come across leaving many families struggling unfairly. In the past 10 years private rent prices have seen increases of 50% and with wages failing to keep pace accompanied by decreases in social housing it is no surprise that thousands of households are stranded on the housing register waiting list.

Whilst Lewisham stands as the 12th most populated borough in London, the council said in a housing strategy document: “It will take us over nine years to provide social homes to everyone on the housing register if the number of homes available stays the same, and if no more households are added to the register.”

The conversion will take 10 months. Pic: Julie Kertesz

Once complete, the Brockley building located at 114 to 116 Manor Avenue will be changed from a property that houses 15 residents to one that has the capacity to house 35.

Currently the building is owned by the council who, for the past 38 years have let out the building to the L&Q housing association.

At present, L&Q are using the building as single adult temporary accommodation that holds 13 rooms with communal facilities as well as a two-bedroom flat for the caretaker but the council have said that these facilities are no longer fit for purpose.

Since the approval of plans, existing Manor Avenue residents have been offered two alternative options by the council: “A self-contained home either through Lewisham Homesearch or from L&Q if they wish to move outside of the borough”.

In last week’s council meeting, Councillor Bell said: “By making more efficient use of this space, we can accommodate more people than before and help support those families most impacted by the housing crisis.”

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