homeless family

Local authorities across London have come under fire for introducing a novel new way to deal with the problem of homelessness – by kicking some of the poorest families out of the borough.

A new report seen by the Guardian revealed that some London councils are making aggressive use of legal powers to make “take or leave it” offers of housing in locations far away from the capital in an attempt to gentrify the city.

Under these draconian new measures, families are given just 24 hours to move to private rented homes in the West Midlands, Essex and the south-east.

Refusal to accept the offers could result in them being declared “intentionally homeless” meaning that they are then at risk of having their support withdrawn.

Campaigners say some councils’ policy of offering homes several hours travel distance from the capital – despite evidence that most families will reject them as unsuitable for their needs – suggests that their priority is to reduce the size of the homeless list rather than genuinely help families.

Many of the families that are offered homes far away from the borough had jobs in the capital and children still in school.

In one case, Brent council offered a three-bedroomed private rented property in Telford, Shropshire to 11 homeless London families over a 12-month period.

None of the families accepted the offer. This was because nine still had jobs in the capital and all of them had at least 2 children still in school.

Elizabeth Wyatt of campaign group Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth(HASL) told the Guardian: “This is not a council trying to house homeless families, but one that is trying to end any responsibility it has towards homeless families as efficiently as possible.”

Failure to accept the housing offer given can mean that a family loses access to any support given by the council. But many see this as preferable to leaving their local community. One housing lawyer told the Guardian: “Clients are doing anything they can, including sleeping on relatives’ floors, to avoid moving out [of their local area].”

Many campaigners have argued that London councils are simply doing this as a way to ship homeless families out of the borough so that they no longer have to help them.

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