Greenwich housing crisis so dire families reportedly being relocated 200 miles away

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

Greenwich councillors have claimed that the housing crisis in the borough has become so bad that homeless families are being sent as far as Manchester for housing.

One family, with newborn twins, was forced to live in a ‘tiny room with mould and exposed wires’ while they were stuck in an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO), according to a councillor representing the area.

At a Greenwich council meeting on Wednesday of last week, Labour councillor Lauren Dingsdale, who represents the Eltham Town and Avery Hill ward, said the current housing emergency had placed huge temporary accommodation costs on the council.

Figures from last October said the authority was spending £800,000 a month on putting people in Travelodge hotel rooms due to record numbers of homeless households.

Cllr Dingsdale said at the meeting: “Many of you won’t know about the family with newborn twins living in a tiny room with mould and exposed wires in an unlicensed HMO in my ward – a situation the health visitor described as the worst case of overcrowding she had ever seen.”

The comments came after the authority’s additional HMO licensing scheme was brought into effect at the start of this year. Alongside the additional fee, the scheme requires the council to have copies of the floorplan and current tenancy agreements from landlords for properties that come under the scheme.

The councillor said the overcrowded family had since been moved into more suitable temporary accommodation. She added that she was happy to see the new HMO licensing scheme, claiming it would improve the lives of private tenants and allow the council to crack down on ‘rogue landlords’.

Cllr Dingsdale added that there was a mass eviction of families from an HMO in her ward last month. Labour councillor Danny Thorpe said he recently saw councillors assisting at an emergency rest centre for the families affected.

Cllr Thorpe said at the meeting: “Last week at the gym, I came out at 8pm to find a full rest centre in operation because 21 households had been evicted from a house in Court Road.

“Once again it was the council, Cllr Dingsdale, Cllr Backon and Cllr Slattery, who were in the middle of it, posting families off like some Second World War billeting operation. People travelling at 8pm to Manchester.”

The authority agreed last month to raise the number of homes it owns that are used for temporary accommodation to 197 units for the upcoming year, increasing the previous total by 50.

Council officers said there were currently 240 homeless households placed in hotel rooms by the council due to the lack of available housing.

Pictured top: Woolwich Town Hall (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

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