A council scheme to help hundreds of people out of temporary accommodation and into genuinely affordable homes has taken its next big step with 18 families moving into newly-bought properties.
Last summer the council unveiled Croydon Affordable Homes (CAH) with the goal of renting out at least 340 local homes costing a maximum 65% of the usual private rent to borough residents.
The council kick-started this process by transferring 96 council-owned houses to be managed by CAH. Now residents have moved into the first 18 of 250 extra houses and flats the council is buying for the scheme.
These two- and three-bedroom properties, which are in central Croydon, Thornton Heath, South Croydon and South Norwood, each have a £10,000 upgrade allocation. Rent is set at the Local Housing Allowance, which means a couple on £900 per month of housing benefit can afford to live there. All rooms also meet the Mayor of London’s space standards, and the tenants get an assured shorthold contract of up to three years instead of the usual six months with a private landlord.
Lyes, Safia and Malaak Imessaoudene are one family who have benefited from one of the new flats, in South Croydon. They had been in Croydon-run temporary accommodation since 2012, when their long-term private landlord had told them to move out because they wanted no children living there. They now have a large and refurbished two-bedroom flat with a garden, new kitchen and parking.
Maintenance contractor Lyes, 43, said: “It was like a dream but it was reality. My wife couldn’t believe it. It is the nicest place I’ve lived; I love the garden and we have a driveway to park the car, and it’s high-quality and big as well.”
Safia, 36, said the new property had helped Malaak, now five. She said: “It’s making a difference, especially for Malaak, as she is improving in her school.”
Out of the scheme’s original 340 housing target, the remaining 244 homes will be delivered by 2020 through agreements with private developers Brick by Brick, the development company set up by Croydon Council, and Hub, the company leading the regeneration of the former Taberner House site in Croydon town centre. Brick by Brick has since identified an extra 38 affordable rented units.
“The council set up this scheme to provide affordable housing to local people who really need it, so I’m very pleased that we’ve bought and refurbished these properties. All are of a high quality, and this is just the start of a scheme that allows us to innovatively invest in good housing for local residents while also adding much-needed capacity in temporary accommodation.”
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning
Borrowing restrictions mean the council cannot fund these developments direct through its Housing Revenue Account, so the creation of CAH allows the same outcome of delivering affordable rented properties across the borough. CAH will repay the council by attracting external investors and using money raised from council house Right To Buy sales receipts that would otherwise go to central Government.
The new charity that oversees the running of CAH with council support will allocate a minimum of £20,000 per year to good causes, with a focus on preventing homelessness and contributing towards affordable housing. For more information about Croydon Affordable Homes, visit the council website.