LewishamNews

Families on Lewisham housing waiting list sent 85 miles away

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Families on the housing waiting list are being sent as far away as Cambridgeshire – 85 miles from their former South London homes.

At least one resident in need of a home was sent to live in Huntingdonshire by Lewisham council.

Other people were sent to towns in the home counties, hours away from the borough, such as Bedford in Bedfordshire and Stevenage in Hertfordshire.

The figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham council.

One family has been living in temporary accommodation a two-hour drive away from Lewisham in Bracknell Forest, Berkshire, for more than three-and-a-half years. Another has been living more than 30 miles away in Harlow, Essex, for more than four-and-a-half years, council statistics show.

At least 29 homeless families were sent by Lewisham council to live in temporary housing outside of London last year.

The number could be higher, as the council refused to provide exact figures where the number of families housed in a council area was less than five.

The figures suggest Lewisham has reduced the number of households it had placed in temporary accommodation outside of London by almost half since 2019.

At least 54 families were sent to live outside the capital in 2019/20, compared to at least 36 in 2020/21 and 29 most recently.

Most residents in need of temporary accommodation are placed in houses in nearby outer London boroughs by Lewisham council.

More than half of the about 735 families provided with temporary housing by the council last year were sent to Bromley, Bexley, Croydon or Greenwich.

As of August 2022, 59 per cent of the 2,744 Lewisham families in temporary accommodation were placed in the borough and 97 per cent in London.

A total of 94 families are currently housed outside of the capital by the council.

A Lewisham council spokesman said: “We aim to place as many households in Lewisham as possible and the vast majority of our temporary accommodation placements are currently in Lewisham or other London boroughs – just three per cent are outside of London.

“Given the limited supply of temporary accommodation within the borough, we prioritise in-borough accommodation for households who have a particular need to remain close to Lewisham, such as for education, health or employment reasons.”

Pictured top: Lewisham council’s headquarters in Catford (Picture: Google Street View)

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