‘I can sleep better in my new home now’

One hundred families, most of whom were living in hostels and bed and breakfasts, are now living in council homes bought to tackle the housing crisis in Lewisham.

Housing provider Lewisham Homes, with the council has purchased almost four properties every month over the past two years.

One resident Albana moved with her husband and three children to her flat this summer: She said: “We lived in a hostel for about a year. It was a tough time because my children had real trouble sleeping and we couldn’t settle.

Where we’re living now is quiet and restful and all of us sleep so much better. It makes such a difference to our lives to have privacy and a bit of space.  It already feels like home.”

It’s claimed the 100 properties will save the council around half a million pounds in accommodation costs every year.

Ainsley Forbes, Lewisham Homes Board Chair said: “We see first-hand the stressful impact which living in unsuitable accommodation has on children and families. “To hear about Albana’s experience and see how much happier her family is now that they have a home, highlights just how important finding ways to create more council homes in Lewisham is.  Lewisham Homes is proud to be making this happen.”

One of the most common reasons for homelessness in Lewisham is private landlord evictions as a result of rent increases. Average rents in the borough have risen by 41 per cent since 2011.

Lewisham has seen the number of homeless households living in hostel and bed and breakfast type accommodation increase by nearly 50 per cent over the last three years.

Councillor Damien Egan, cabinet member for housing said: “The housing crisis in London is having a profound impact on families like Albana’s who are being pushed into homelessness.

“We’re buying homes off the open market, competing against private landlords, to create more council homes.

“Through a loan to Lewisham Homes, 100 homeless families are now out of hostels and into family homes and we plan to buy more.”

Lewisham Homes is creating hundreds more new council homes elsewhere in the borough. People will have moved into 21 new homes in Forest Hill, Lee and Brockley this year. This is part of the town hall’s wider programme to start building 500 new council homes by May 2018 to meet local housing need.

Next year, Lewisham Homes will start to build 300 new council homes. 100 of these homes will be constructed quickly using the same pop-up method employed to build the award-winning PLACE/Ladywell.

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