An Núacht – Our Tenant Newsletter (Spring 2017)
To read the Spring Newsletter click here: An Núacht
London’s temporary housing population is expanding
One of Innisfree’s Housing Officers Becky Cartmell’s research for a MSc. in Public Policy and Management at King’s College London explored the use of temporary accommodation in London and revealed some startling findings about how long families went without settled homes.
London has the severest housing crisis; one third of all homeless households in England are accepted by local authorities in the capital. Housing affordability is much worse in all tenures too.
London also accounts for almost three quarters of the total 72,000 households living in temporary accommodation in England. And the number of households living in such housing in London has climbed by 45% over the last six years to stand at almost 52,000.
The private rented sector accommodates almost two fifths of homeless households accepted by local authorities in London, which is double the rate for the rest of the country.
My research takes a closer look at why London has such high use of temporary accommodation. It suggests local authority policy and practice may be inadvertently encouraging longer lengths of stay.
According to the DCLG, the number of households who spend over two years in temporary accommodation is five times higher in London than the rest of England, with one London borough reporting an average wait time of 19 years for a three bedroom house.
Not all London boroughs with extensive pressure on affordable housing supply have similarly long lengths of stay in temporary accommodation. Based on responses to Freedom of Information requests by Shelter those temporarily housed for over five years ranges from 4 to 48%.
While the Housing Act gives authorities little control over who they provide with emergency accommodation, it is far less prescriptive about how they discharge that duty.
Even in London boroughs with intense pressure on affordable housing, the length of time households remain in temporary accommodation is heavily dependent on boroughs’ allocations policies and more crucially, on how successfully their housing teams can secure private tenancies.
As those who are accepted as homeless and placed in temporary accommodation are only one group of several given ‘reasonable preference’ under the Housing Act, London boroughs have considerable power to determine who receives what kind of assistance and how quickly those in temporary housing can move on.
My research revealed those in temporary accommodation are often not being prioritised in housing allocations schemes. This stems from a perceived need among some allocations managers to avoid incentivizing homelessness as a route to social housing.
Thanks to the Localism Act, London boroughs – as with all local authorities – have the power to end temporary accommodation placements in the private sector as well as through their allocations schemes and thereby removing this ‘incentive for homelessness’.
My research found that varied temporary accommodation was accessed by different London boroughs. While the majority of temporary placements have to be sourced from the private sector (leaving boroughs financially vulnerable to market fluctuations), boroughs differed over whether hostel or annex accommodation was more appropriate than self-contained units.
One London borough prided itself on not using annex accommodation. But it found instead that some of its self-contained, family sized terraced houses reserved for temporary use were so desirable that families had little incentive to bid through their allocations system for a ‘permanent’ home and were resistant to take up direct offers.
Boroughs compete to secure both temporary and permanent placements in the private sector. High market prices are forcing them to look further and further out of their jurisdictions.
There was a misconception among some managers that all boroughs faced the same challenges and more information sharing and coordinated action, would help to improve the chances of securing suitable, affordable tenancies in the private sector. There is potential for this to be led by an external organisation like the Greater London Authority or London Councils, to promote a more strategic, pan-London approach.
E-mail: [email protected]
First ever Fuel Bank Opens in Brent
The Trussell Trust and energy supplier Npower has launched the first ever Fuel Bank in Brent. The scheme gives foodbank users, with pre-payment meters, vouchers for gas or electricity, so they do not have to choose between ‘heating and eating’.
Because the scheme gives people around two weeks’ worth of energy, the value of the voucher will fluctuate between the winter and summer months: from April to the end of October the value will be £30 and this will increase to £49 from 1st November to 31st March.
The scheme is for clients with a valid Brent Foodbank voucher, who could be eligible to receive the credit which they can use to repay emergency credit and top up their gas and electricity meter. This enables households that have run out of energy to get the power back on within a few hours and keep the lights and heating on for around two weeks.
For further information please contact Brent Foodbank on 0203 745 5972 or e-mail [email protected]
StepChange Debt Charity
StepChange Debt Charity helps thousands of people every week to overcome serious debt problems. For free debt advice and solutions contact StepChange via their website www.stepchange.org or call tel: 0800 138 1111. Calls are free from all landlines and mobiles. Lines are open: Mon to Fri 8am to 8pm and Sat 8am to 4pm.
Mental Health on the Irish Population
Mind Yourself has produced a short film featuring the effect of mental health issues specifically on the Irish population, and the work that Mind Yourself does. You can find it here: http://mind-yourself.co.uk/news/lights-camera-action/
Healthy Eating for Healthy Memories Recipe Book & Film Launch
Together with Irish in Britain, we launched our Healthy Eating for Healthy Memories Recipe book as part of our allotment project celebration at the Brent Library. Working together in partnership, we developed and delivered a Healthy Eating for Healthy Memories project with residents of Clochar Court Sheltered Housing Scheme and the wider Innisfree Community in North London. The project took place over 8 weeks and participants met each Wednesday to explore a range of foods and cooking techniques that encouraged a healthier approach to diet and lifestyle with an emphasis on food and nutrition that supports good brain health as we age.
Throughout the project participants cooked a range of meals together, met with a nutritionist, found out about getting active in their local community, celebrated Dementia Awareness Week and took a picnic to the Innisfree allotment. Together the group tried everything from wheatgrass smoothies to quinoa, with a scoop or two of Italian ice–cream thrown in along the way! Following our taste tests and explorations, we’ve developed 7 recipes that are nutritious, easy to follow, quick to make and have a ‘superfood’ or two that you might not have tried before! So give our simple recipes a go and begin your day with our Great Start Smoothie recipes or catch up with a friend over a delicious Oat and Nut Teacake!
Download the recipe book and get cooking!
House Exchange is a web based scheme to help local authority and housing association residents find people who want to swap homes with them.
Registration is quick, easy and free for residents.
The House Exchange website will try to match you with other households wherever you’re looking to move to. You will be able to search for homes either locally or anywhere in the UK, so whatever your reason for moving, begin your search today by registering at: www.houseexchange.org.uk
House Exchange also has a presence online through a range of social media sites to further help your chances of finding a move. You can even share your property advert on the following pages:
Once you find your exchange partner(s) and you have both agreed you would like to swap homes with each other, all parties must also gain approval from their own landlords. At this point you will need to request a mutual exchange application form from us; this will begin the formal process.
Could you support someone to stay home for good?
Home for Good are looking for compassionate individuals from all walks of life who can spare an hour or two each week to support a formerly homeless person in their local area.
A London-wide scheme, Home for Good was designed to support those who might be struggling in a new and unfamiliar area, without a support network. Clients have reported that social isolation can be a real problem, leading to a recurrence of homelessness.
Home for Good community volunteers receive full training, background checks and ongoing support from The Passage. All expenses are covered. The commitment required is 6-12 months.
• Supporting the client with emerging issues and identifying goals
• Exploring the local area and finding local services or organisations that can help
• Going for a coffee and a chat (or a trip to a gallery) to explore shared interests
If you would like to make a lasting difference to someone’s life, please contact Home for Good on: 020 7592 1873 or [email protected]
Complaints, Compliments and Suggestions
We welcome all feedback from our customers and value any suggestions you may have about our services. Click on this link Innisfree – Complaints, Compliments and Suggestions to find out how you can contact us and how we will deal with your feedback.
Innisfree Housing Association in partnership with Irish in Britain and Age Exchange created a reminiscence project with older members of the Irish community in Harlesden, North London. The film ‘Carnaby Street, The Kings Road And The Dancehalls: London Was Your First Stop’ celebrates the lives and experiences of a group of immigrants who moved to North London from Ireland from the 1950s to the 1980s.
To view some of the documents on this website you will need Adobe Reader. Download it here.