New hostel to support homelessness system ‘at breaking point’
Nearly 150 more rooms providing vital accommodation for families facing homelessness will be available later this year after Hackney Council agreed to take a lease on a new Finsbury Park hostel.
The building in Seven Sisters Road will mean more homeless residents can be temporarily housed locally – maintaining crucial links to their families, jobs and schools.
The terms of the lease, approved in principle by the Council’s Cabinet last night, will help the Council meet record rising demand for housing, with nearly 3,000 homeless households currently living in temporary accommodation. In total, around 13,000 people are waiting for a Council home in Hackney.
Unlike older hostels or bed and breakfasts used for temporary accommodation, the new hostel will have space for training, outreach and employment sessions to help residents access vital support. Construction work will be completed during the summer.
London’s housing system is at breaking point, and the number of people applying for a Council home or at risk of homelessness in Hackney is at record levels.
These problems need national solutions – but in Hackney we’re doing all we can to build more homes and find appropriate accommodation for families most in need of somewhere to stay or those fleeing abuse.
This new hostel will help achieve that and ensure more people are able to be temporarily housed locally until they can find a permanent place to call home.
The hostel will be run and maintained by Council staff, with all trained in domestic violence awareness, to liaise with the local community, deal with anti-social behaviour and ensure residents are safe.
Providing temporary accommodation cost the Council more than £35million last year – a figure that has quadrupled in five years. A modern, high-quality hostel will provide better support for residents and be more cost-effective than using bed and breakfasts for temporary housing.
Last year, the Council were able to offer properties to 1,187 people on its housing waiting list. This means it would take more than 10 years to house everybody currently waiting, even if nobody else applied.
Government welfare reform is also making this problem worse, with the further Benefit Cap reduction to £23,000 in London affecting around 1,500 households in Hackney, the majority of whom are in the private sector.
Reforms since 2010 to cap and change how Local Housing Allowance – the form of housing benefit you can claim if you rent from a private landlord – is calculated, mean that it no longer covers the average rent in Hackney. This means families on low incomes, or those struggling to meet household costs because of a job loss or rent increase, are at a much-increased risk of eviction – with very little other affordable housing options available in the borough. Eviction from the private rented sector is now the number one cause of homelessness in Hackney.