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Editor’s comment: 80 households in hostels is unacceptable

PUBLISHED: 11:04 24 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:04 24 July 2017

Sharon Ashworth in her room at Abercrombie House hostel in Havering, Picture: EMMA YOULE

Sharon Ashworth in her room at Abercrombie House hostel in Havering, Picture: EMMA YOULE

Archant

A shocking 738 households in Havering are living in temporary accommodation. Eight of those are in hostels.

This week the Recorder has a launched a three-week series of features looking at the plight of the borough’s hidden homeless.

Those sleeping rough are easily identified. We see them every day in Romford town centre.

But life is little better for those living five or six to a room in a hostel for months on end.

Sharon Ashworth has lived in Havering all her life. But since March 1 she has been living in one room with her three daughters. She has been told she is not a priority case and is unlikely to be allocated a home any time soon.

On average people stay in hostels for 26 weeks, and in temporary accommodation for six years.

The council does what it can to improve conditions in the hostels but it is far from an ideal situation. In the past five years it has had to spend £3m on temporary accommodation.

And there are many reasons for people becoming homeless. Emma-Clare O’Sullivan and Kathleen Coughlan – who have nine children between them – lost their rented homes when the landlords asked for their properties back.

With three-bedroom houses renting for up to £1,500 a month, they cannot afford anywhere else to live. And, they say, even if they could, landlords will not accept tenants on housing benefit.

Under the Right to Buy scheme, 4,000 Havering council homes were sold. If they hadn’t been, the borough wouldn’t have anyone in temporary accommodation.

The answer surely now has to be for the government to provide funding so that councils can build council houses.

The so-called “affordable” homes being created in private developments are not really affordable for the majority of people. And private rents are soaring beyond most people’s pockets.

And families are being left in unacceptable conditions with no light at the end of the tunnel.

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