Islington Council to spend £13.5m on temporary accommodation properties as landlords take rental homes off market
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Islington Council is spending £13.5million buying properties for temporary accommodation as it looks to stop relying on the private sector to support its homeless population.
It comes as an increasing number of landlords in the borough are taking their homes off the market for such use.
Government statistics revealed on Wednesday show as of June there were more than 59,000 London families in often-unsuitable temporary homes, and more than 88,000 children.
Islington Council's figures are not included, but in March there were 553 families in temporary accommodation, and 727 children.
Housing charity Shelter on Thursday announced its own figures for homelessness across the country using methodology based on the government figures as well as the 2018 rough sleeper count, which registered 43 people on Islington's streets.
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It found Islington had the 28th highest rate of homelessness in the country, with 2,416 people in temporary accommodation, rough sleeping, or "homeless at home" - sofa surfing. That's one person in every 99.
A town hall report this week shows that number is expected to increase and that it is becoming more expensive to place people in such housing.
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"If client numbers rise significantly this could add substantial costs in terms of procuring temporary accommodation," it adds.
The £13.5m is part of a wider programme to "reduce reliance" on the private sector for temporary housing, the council said. It does not impact the new-build programme which is set to deliver 550 new council homes.
The report states the problem is made worse by the fact Islington's largest temporary accommodation provider Notting Hill Genesis Housing, which has 104 temporary homes in the borough, has ended "many tenancies and increased charges" recently. That means people have had to move to more expensive temporary homes or face rent hikes in their existing one.
Notting Hill said: "In temporary housing, the properties are generally not owned by us, they tend to be privately-owned homes landlords have made available.
"In recent months there has been an increase in landlords wishing to take back their properties in Islington."
The housing association said a recent review revealed most of its properties in Islington were making a loss, so it had no choice but to increase rents.
The spokesperson added: "We have met with the council to explain the vital work we do and how rental income needs to cover our costs, as any money lost is money that we can't reinvest in our core purpose of building more affordable housing."