On Wednesday last week, at the full council meeting Lambeth Labour voted down a Green Party motion seeking to improve the state of Temporary Accommodation for homeless families in Lambeth (1).
At the end of June 2021, Lambeth was housing 2,895 households in Temporary Accommodation: over 2% of the local population. This includes 4,258 children, many experiencing trauma after being frequently moved away from their schools and support networks.
There is no question that things are only going to get worse for Lambeth’s housing crisis and with the lifting of both the Government and Lambeth council’s eviction bans, the number of residents being made homeless is likely to increase. Alarmingly, there is no published housing strategy in Lambeth to lay out a plan to address the issue, or even to reduce this figure.
Over the past 3 years, the Green Group have met with cabinet members and officers to push the same urgent issues up the political agenda: the immediate need for more council housing at council rent, to retrofit not demolish, and the need for secure tenancies.
Turning a blind eye to the emotional distress caused to those in insecure housing, Lambeth Labour continues to push forward with its destructive regeneration programme, supporting the Homes for Lambeth business plan where only a handful of additional council homes will be made available, over the next 20 years (2).
The Green Group of councillors stress that the term ‘affordable housing’ that is so often wielded by Lambeth Labour means housing for people who earn over £60k a year and does little to meaningfully address the current housing crisis.
If passed, the Green Party motion would have sought to eliminate the need for long-term Temporary Accommodation within six years, halving TA in its current form within 3 years (3). This would have been achieved through cross-party work and engaging local groups, to develop a housing strategy that would urgently deliver truly affordable and secure social housing, giving higher priority in housing allocations to homeless families in TA.
St Leonard’s ward and Green Party Councillor, Nicole Griffiths says: “Over the past few years, I have visited families living in accommodation that is so unsuitable for human habitation that I have despaired alongside them. We need to get the housing right, financial support where needed, remove the endless insecurity and impact on well-being that temporary housing and substandard housing of all kinds has on our residents. It is very disappointing that Labour can not see the full scale of the issue and chose to vote against the motion looking to effect real change for vulnerable families.”
Gipsy Hill ward and Green Party Councillor, Pete Elliott says: “It is vital council shows empathy and understanding towards those experiencing the unacceptable stresses of Homes for Lambeth’s threat of regeneration. Temporary Accommodation residents are being treated as unwilling property guardians to be moved around at the whims of Lambeth Council and Homes for Lambeth.”
“The miserable standards of Temporary Accommodation that we are putting our residents in is embarrassing and shameful. The fact that we are consciously putting families in overcrowded accommodation for years and calling it Temporary Accommodation is unforgivable in a borough where we are investing so much taxpayer money in recklessly demolishing homes through a very risky business model, similar to Croydon’s, Brick by Brick.”