12 July 2019

Plans signed off by councillors will see the council embark on a year-long trial to buy more accommodation outside the royal borough.

In the last year, the number of homeless households in Greenwich has nearly doubled.

As accommodation within Greenwich becomes expensive and in high demand, council officers have proposed buying more properties elsewhere – within a half hour commute to Woolwich.

Cabinet papers explain: “Over the coming year the council is looking to better manage the homelessness process, eliminate the use of Shared Emergency Overnight Accommodation for families, increase the quality of the temporary accommodation and make selective purchases of “out of borough” properties for use as Temporary Accommodation.

“Due to the increase in numbers going into temporary accommodation and remaining there, extreme pressure has been placed on the council to source accommodation in the borough. 

“However, the escalating numbers have meant that the need to use accommodation out of the borough has increased.”

The council has placed people as far away as Hatfield and Medway, with one emergency move to Chatham coming after a resident was “severely bitten by bed bugs”.

Another household was moved out to Gravesend due to severe mould caused by a leak in the roof.

Hatfield, 45 miles from the borough, is the furthest emergency overnight accommodation used by the council.

Officers added: “The pilot scheme will also need to assess the cost and structure of a delivery model for providing out of borough properties, considering repairs and service delivery with additional travel time.”

The pilot scheme will see more than £60m set aside to buy accommodation outside the royal borough.

Councillors nodded through the plans without a word at the same meeting where they signed off on demolishing the Morris Walk Estate.

The long-awaited project has been stifled by delays, leaving residents in limbo in accommodation that “you cannot defend”, according to leader Dan Thorpe.

Housing has been cited as a big priority for Thorpe’s administration, which plans the biggest council house building programme “in a generation”.

It was recently revealed there is currently an average wait of 976 days for a two bed property.

Greenwich Council plans to build more than 700 council houses, borrowing millions to get schemes off the ground.

There are nearly 20,000 people on the authorities housing waiting list, with one household registered for 47 years.

Source: News Shopper