Shock statistics reveal Waltham Forest temporary housing dilemma

Less than half of Waltham Forest households currently relying on the council for temporary housing are living in the borough.

A Freedom of Information request shows just 504 of the borough’s 1,037 homeless households are still in Waltham Forest.

By comparison, neighbouring Redbridge Council is supporting 2,700 households but has housed more than half in the borough, while Barking & Dagenham and Havering have kept the majority of their homeless households within their borders.

Of the homeless Waltham Forest households not being housed in the borough itself, 337 are living somewhere else in North East London. However, others are scattered across London, sometimes as far away as Croydon or Hillingdon, or even further afield in Essex and Hertfordshire.

The households placed furthest away from the borough are two being housed in Colchester, almost 60 miles away, and Southend-on-Sea.

People are initially placed in temporary accommodation by councils when they are declared “unintentionally homeless,” often because they have been evicted by a private landlord.

Tenants will still pay some rent, albeit far below market rates, with the average homeless Waltham Forest household paying £1,200 a month.

Since 2018, Waltham Forest Council has tried to reduce the amount it pays to temporary accommodation providers by purchasing its own homes.

It has entered into two joint venture deals with housing provider Mears in order to purchase a total of 800 homes for use as temporary accommodation.

A total of £123million was agreed for joint purchases of homes in London, Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent.

Waltham Forest Council were approached for comment on this story but had not responded at the time of publication.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter