1,492 families will be homeless this Christmas in Wandsworth, including 2,179 children, according to figures released by Wandsworth Council.
Alaina Macdonald, Labour’s Speaker on Housing, said: “It is heart-breaking that these families won’t spend Christmas somewhere they can call home. Some families will be in B&Bs – stuck altogether in one room morning, noon and night – hard at the best of times. Worse at Christmas.”
Councillor Macdonald pointed to the recent case of a single mother to an autistic son and 10-month-old baby who found herself homeless after fleeing domestic violence. Today she was offered her 5th temporary placement in 15 months; a B&B, after complaining of a rat infestation in her temporary accommodation.
In an email, the mother described her living conditions: “All three rats captured have escaped the sticky traps isolating me to one room in the property; my bedroom, with the baby. One has just been caught again which is so much bigger than the four I have seen today”.
The bedroom of the temporary accommodation
Cllr Macdonald said: “Everyone is paying a high price for the cost of this temporary accommodation. For the families stuck there, it is taking a toll on their mental and physical health. And Wandsworth Council are paying through the roof for temporary accommodation. Only the landlords are winning here.”
According to Cllr Aydin Dikerdem, the newly-elected councillor in Queenstown ward where housing problems are especially acute; “it’s not only that Wandsworth is building too little, it is that the Council is overseeing the building of the wrong kind of housing stock. No matter how many riverside penthouses go up – the fundamental problem of a lack of housing for ordinary families in Wandsworth is still not being addressed”.
In a debate in Wandsworth Council on Wednesday, the Conservative councillors unanimously voted down a proposal made by the Labour Party that the Council build more affordable homes, replace every home sold under Right to Buy and raise standards in the private rented sector.
In the past 25 years 14,791 council homes in Wandsworth have been sold off and only 5,170 have been built in their place.
The average price of a semi-detached property in Wandsworth last year was £1,567,389 and the average weekly rent for a 2-bed flat was £474.
Cllr Macdonald concluded by saying; “the public does not believe that Wandsworth Council has a grip on our local housing crisis and when you see the statistics, it’s clear why.”
- Over the past 6 years Wandsworth Council has paid out almost £11m to house homeless families in temporary private accommodation as their needs could not be met by the Council’s own housing stock.
- This year alone almost £3m has been spent on providing temporary accommodation for homeless families in Wandsworth.
- Over the last 3 months 15 families were temporarily housed in bed and breakfast accommodation for more than 6 weeks.
- According to Wandsworth’s own strategic needs assessment, there are 15,000 ‘non decent’ homes in the private rented sector in the borough.
- The Council’s current target for making homes in the private sector ‘decent’ is 230. There are 43,000 households in the borough in the private rented sector.