Croydon’s housing crisis is so desperate that the council is scouring its property portfolio to find rooms to convert into temporary living space for the borough’s homeless.
The announcement came in written answers at the Town Hall that also revealed that 318 dependent children and 289 households are in emergency bed and breakfast accommodation – many possibly facing appalling conditions, as was highlighted in a Newsnight television investigation earlier this year.
It is understood that, two months on, the London Road hotel featured in the damning broadcast, in which a government minister accused Croydon of acting “doubly illegally”, is still being used by the local council to house homeless families.
Posters across the town centre scream out Croydon Council’s desperate desire for landlords to come forward to help them with the crisis. Unlike letting agencies, the council charges no fees to landlords, who are also offered a cash bonus.
“A review of surplus council buildings is under way to assess the feasibility of converting such properties to temporary accommodation use,” wrote Dudley Mead, the deputy leader of the Conservative group which controls the council, and the cabinet member for housing.
Park groundsmen’s huts, closed public toilets, crematorium buildings and Taberner House are all avenues of investigation.
What seems certain not to be providing any solutions to this housing shortage, which had been worsening over several years, will be the building of new council houses. Mead sais that work on a mere 67 units will be underway by March 2014.
But Mead also revealed a dark side, and woe betide anyone else who might dare to be a whistleblower about the illegal shortcomings of our council in future.
Mead and his wife, Margaret, the Terry and June of Croydon politics, who live in comfortable retirement in the south of the borough, between them receive more than £90,000 per year in their council “allowances”.
Yet the senior Croydon Tory showed no shame at all when replying to a question about the action the council was taking to resolve the issues raised by the BBC Newsnight: the homeless young mothers and their children who appeared in the film had been evicted or served with notice to quit, Mead happily replied.
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