Last week, we wrote about figures from Crisis which showed that welfare reforms are playing a greater part in pushing London's poor further into poverty.
But the Homelessness Monitor report (pdf) also sets out the rising numbers of Londoners who are being forced to seek help from local authorities at the end of private tenancies. It's pretty staggering — the number of homelessness acceptances by London councils has risen 544%, from 925 in 2009/10 to 5,960 in 2013/14.
Statutory homelessness acceptance means the local authority has made a formal assessment and found a household unintentionally homeless and in priority need. At the moment, it's hard to pinpoint actual reasons for people leaving a private tenancy as landlords are not required to give reasons for terminating assured short-hold tenancies (AST). Green Party London Assembly Member Darren Johnson said:
“People are being squeezed by rapidly rising rents in London, short term tenancy agreements and the cap on housing benefit support. We urgently need solutions such as increased legal protection for tenants and rent controls. More and more people on low pay are being forced out of their homes and in many cases, forced out of London.”
While there are promising signs that this is going to change, it's still a case of baby steps. We heard at Generation Rent’s conference last week that retaliatory evictions would be outlawed by the end of this Parliament on 30 March. In December 2014, we wrote that homelessness due to eviction was responsible for four in 10 Londoners being made homeless between July and September.
Are we doing enough to halt the homelessness increase? Not yet. But people are waking up to the problem. Westminster Conservative councillor Richard Holloway told CityMetric that measures like banning foreign buyers and issuing landlord licences are 'not adequate' to solve London's housing crisis, and what's needed is more social housing. A London Assembly report published today shows a loss of 8,000 homes for social rent in the last 10 years. While it's nice to finally hear someone saying the same things we do, we's also like to see a stop to the haemorrhaging flow of social housing being sold off cheap.