31 new flats in Acton will shortly be let to their first tenants. They couldn’t have arrived at a better time, as inflation and the cost-of-living crisis have triggered a big rise in the number of families in need of support from the council.
The new, self-contained flats at Aspect House were bought by the council in January, specifically for use as temporary accommodation. All of the tenancies will go to people from the borough who would otherwise be at risk of becoming homeless and have nowhere else to turn. Many will have already been living in temporary homes for some time.
The new temporary homes have become available at a crucial time. The cost-of-living crisis has resulted in high levels of households finding themselves priced out of the private rental market. Although the chronic shortage in the borough of affordable housing is nothing new, the immediate pressure on temporary accommodation places has never been worse.
There is a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom homes in the block on Portal Way, each with its own bathroom and kitchen. For some of the households, who may previously have been in more limited hostel or B&B accommodation, these flats are an opportunity for a new start.
At the sharp end
Council leader Peter Mason said: “The fantastic new temporary homes at Aspect House will provide a safe, secure place to stay for some of our most vulnerable residents.
“Ealing is at the sharpest end of the temporary accommodation crisis, which has been exacerbated by last year’s financial turbulence. The impact of the rocketing cost-of-living on residents who were already struggling to cope is often hidden but can be devastating. We are doing everything we can to support those families, but we need the government to urgently step up to provide the necessary funding to help us provide more fit-for-purpose temporary accommodation, and to enable us to tackle the wider crisis of housing affordability which is so acute in Ealing and across London.”
A shrinking market
It is becoming harder and harder for many Ealing households to find somewhere suitable to live. Average private rents have gone up 10% in the last six months alone.
There has been an increase in evictions and a big drop in properties available in the private rented sector, with rising interest rates and high property prices persuading many landlords to sell rather than continuing to let their properties out to tenants.
Adding to the difficulty, there are also now fewer options available for the council to offer as temporary accommodation, as suppliers are rapidly leaving the market. Housing homeless households in bed and breakfast (B&B) accommodation to prevent them from having to sleep rough is one of the council’s options these situations – but that last resort is now proving hard to find.
Despite the challenges, the council is working hard to prevent homelessness. Just a year ago, in March 2022, B&B placements were at their lowest level since 2014 and the total had dropped by almost 90% in the last three years – which was achieved by supporting residents to stay in the accommodation they were currently in or helping them to find privately rented options. Indeed, despite the pressure the council is now under, Ealing still has the second highest rate of homelessness prevention in London.
The council has also radically stepped up its homebuilding plans in recent years and is working hard to provide thousands more of the genuinely affordable homes which are so urgently needed.
If you are a landlord and are interested in getting help from the council to let your home, email email@example.com
If you are immediate risk of homelessness, contact the council’s housing advice service on 020 8825 8888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org