Ealing Councillors agree £150m funds to buy housing stock

Image above: New housing units similar to those built in Acton not enough to meet demand

Rising interests rates have exacerbated the homeless crisis in Ealing

Ealing Council’s Cabinet has unanimously approved a £150 million initiative aimed at addressing escalating homelessness within the borough. The worrying surge in homelessness rates is placing an increasing burden on the Council’s resources as more people, including families, seek help with housing.

Rising interest rates have prompted landlords to either sell their properties or hike rental prices, exacerbating the homelessness crisis. At a recent Cabinet meeting, Councillor Shital Manro emphasised the urgent need for decisive action, warning that the burgeoning numbers threatened to strain the Council’s budget beyond what they could sustain. Explaining the situation facing the Council he said:

“The cost of homelessness is massive, for instance, using hotel rooms costs us £4,000 a month plus, that’s £50,000 a year and we are currently using 169.”

The Council’s use of 389 bed and breakfasts as temporary housing incurs monthly expenses of £1,300 per unit, with potential overspending projected to reach £5 million without intervention.

The Council is proposing to buy £150m worth of housing stock. Presenting the acquisition plan to his colleagues, Cllr Manro said that any purchase made by the Council would have to be ‘financially sound’ with revenue from rent covering the costs over time.

The proposed initiative aims to bolster the Council’s housing stock, providing struggling people with access to quality accommodation. Cllr Manro said he and his colleague Cllr Bassam Mahfouz receive emails from distressed families who are ‘being moved from one hotel to another every week with their children’.

He added, “This is not the life we want our residents to live and we have to send them all over the country as well.”

As part of the comprehensive plan, the Council will establish a housing resettlement team tasked with helping people to secure alternative housing options. Council Leader Peter Mason praised the plan, pointing out that it made financial sense and citing the council’s £7.5m purchase of Aspect House which provided 31 housing units the council can now use for people struggling with accommodation.

He said that the Council was well placed to buy up property as grants and money from bodies like the Greater London Authority and dips in foreign speculation in the London housing market meant that homes could be acquired at a ‘deep, deep discount’.