Housing is a longstanding problem in Croydon, where council continues to accept a higher percentage of those who are homeless and have priority needs than many other areas of London.
But there is now a small prospect of improvement for some of those forced to accept inadequate temporary accommodation in the borough’s B&Bs, thanks to funding for a three-year project being run by South West London Law Centres and Citizens Advice Croydon, who will be offering advice, training and information to those that need it.
“There is a huge need for support for those living in temporary accommodation in the borough,” a spokesperson for SWLLC told Inside Croydon today, as they revealed that, together with the borough’s Citizens Advice network, they have been awarded a grant from Trust for London and Oak Foundation as part of the Better Temporary Accommodation for Londoners initiative.
The SWLLC/CAB project covers Croydon and Wandsworth, and is one of 11 across the capital.
SWLLC refused to disclose what level of funding their project will receive.
SWLLC said today that families and individuals living in temporary accommodation – due to homelessness or because they are fleeing domestic abuse – are frequently placed in highly unsuitable accommodation.
“They may be far away from children’s schools, too small for the number of family members or rundown and in poor condition.
“Families can end up spending years where they are placed, with many being unaware of their rights surrounding temporary accommodation.”
The law centre’s community engagement manager, Rhiannon Hughes, will head up the work, engaging with tenants’ groups and individuals to offer training in the rights available to those within temporary accommodation.
They will be given a safe space to share their experiences without fear of losing their home, and this will form the basis of developing a public voice to campaign on the key issues. Hughes will also offer training in community empowerment, including citizen journalism, evidencing poor housing conditions and how to escalate complaints as well as understanding when to seek legal advice.
“Most temporary accommodation is not providing what it was set up to do,” Hughes said.
“It is not a safe place. Some of the conditions that people are forced into in temporary accommodation are unacceptable and unsafe. People endure these conditions for years to fight for a better housing solution for themselves and their families. People pay a lot of money to live in these properties.
“Local authorities and landlords need to listen if they expect to be paid for the accommodation they are providing. On a larger scale both local and national governments need to deal with these issues.”
Patrick Marples, the chief exec of SWLLC, said: “We are really pleased to have received the funding we need so we can help tackle this shocking issue that blights the lives of so many vulnerable people.
“This project will enable us to help defend their rights and campaign for wider change so families no longer have to endure this kind of treatment.”
And Claire Keetch of Citizens Advice Croydon said, “Our advisers deal with thousands of housing problems every year, including those related to homelessness and temporary accommodation.
“We are well placed to work with our partners in SWLLC to highlight the kind of difficulties faced by those living in temporary accommodation, and importantly, how we can work together to improve things.”
If you are living in temporary accommodation in the borough of Croydon, or are supporting someone who is, Rhiannon Hughes would like to hear from you.
To discuss how you can contribute to the project in any way, please email email@example.com (note: Hughes is not a legal adviser so is unable to offer legal advice).
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