Homelessness crisis is overlooked long-term impact of Covid-19

An estimated one in 105 people are homeless in Havering, with rough sleepers thought to be particularly vulnerable during...

An estimated one in 105 people are homeless in Havering, with rough sleepers thought to be particularly vulnerable during a pandemic. Picture: Hannah Somerville - Credit: Archant

Tragically by the start of April we know Covid was the direct cause of 1,459 deaths in Barking and Dagenham and Havering. Yet the pandemic is also having other profound effects.

One of the overlooked long-term Covid impacts is a looming homelessness crisis. This is coming about through no fault of those who will become the victims.

It’s due to loss of incomes and livelihoods and the consequent rise in rent arrears to private landlords. Nationally, estimates suggest there are almost 400,000 households in rent arrears as a result of the economic toll from Covid and have the prospect of possession orders hanging over them.

Jon Cruddas MP criticised government for interfering with Havering's planning.

Rainham MP Jon Cruddas said government curbing Havering's planning powers would aid 'fat cat developers' instead of residents. - Credit: Andrew Achilleos

Whilst the government ordered a temporary halt to courts giving landlords the go-ahead to evict, they have not addressed the underlying and real problem. What the government has done is simply kick the can down the road.

I believe the estimate is that there are potentially 990 families across both boroughs facing the prospect of eviction and homelessness.

This will place immense pressure on the councils and bring great distress and disruption to those families who lose their homes.

All of this further convinces me that what we need locally is not the kind of housing that the developers want to put up. Local hard-pressed families struggling to get by and make better lives for themselves need new council homes that will be genuinely affordable.

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Together with other Labour MPs, I have written to the government to draw attention to the impending evictions and homelessness crisis and urged them to act now.

I will also continue to press that new housing schemes have the maximum proportion of homes that local people on modest incomes can afford, if that comes at the cost of reduced profits for developers, well, so be it.