Photo credit: BobaliciousLondon
More than 1,500 tenants are living in overcrowded conditions as over 2,000 social housing homes stand empty in Hackney.
Almost 500 tenants have been left waiting on Hackney Council’s housing allocation list while they live in cramped one-or-two bed private housing. Meanwhile, 1,200 tenants are in the same predicament, but in overcrowded one and two-bed social housing.
The figures, revealed by a Freedom of Information request, has led to criticism towards the government’s lack of action on rent control and housing policy. Hackney Council currently owns 44 per cent of the 2,000 empty properties.
Reduction in social lettings
Heather Kennedy, spokesperson for Digs, who campaign on behalf of renters in Hackney, said: “These figures on overcrowding have grave implications for the health and well-being of Hackney residents. And until the Government take action to bring down rents in inner London, we’re going to see overcrowding getting worse and worse.”
She highlighted the links between living in overcrowded housing and poor health, mental illness and poor school performance.
The new data comes just after a recent council report predicted that 1,000 social lettings will become available in 2013-2014, 30 per cent fewer than the previous year.
The Hackney report on the impact of Housing Benefit and Welfare reforms also pointed to welfare living allowance restrictions imposed by the coalition government, which it predicted would further increase demand for social housing.
The council pledged to build over 24,000 homes by 2026, but concedes that housing prices in the borough are rising disproportionately fast compared with the rest of London.
London’s housing crisis
Shelter recently named Hackney alongside Kensington as one of the least affordable boroughs in London.
Philip Glanville, Hackney Council and cabinet member for Hackney Homes and Regeneration Estates, admitted that London’s housing crisis is one of the most serious issues faced by the council.
He said: “In Hackney, we are taking action by reducing the number of households in severe overcrowding from more than 1,200 in 2004 down to just over 200 last year.”
“Some of our ageing, not fit-for-purpose empty properties will be demolished in the coming weeks and months – to make way for the construction of another 320 new homes this year.”
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