New council house priority plans for Croydon residents

 

A decision to increase the period residents have lived in Croydon before qualifying for a council home will be considered at cabinet next week.

With demand continuing to outstrip supply, Croydon Council has reviewed its Housing Allocation scheme to ensure local people benefit first. The council currently accepts people onto its housing register if they cannot afford to buy or rent privately, are aged 18 or over and are deemed to be in housing need. Applicants must also meet further criteria, such as living in the borough for at a least a year.

However Croydon, like other London boroughs, has been hit by the housing crisis and the waiting list is long with the number of households placed in emergency and temporary accommodation rising year on year.

Under the council’s new plans to be presented at cabinet on Monday, priority will go to applicants that have lived in the borough for more than three years and work with the council to find solutions to prevent them becoming homeless. The council also plans to introduce a choice-based lettings scheme that will allow applicants on the housing register to express an interest in certain properties by making online ‘bids’. This will make housing allocations far more open and transparent for all Croydon residents.

The council’s proposals, which were the subject of public consultation between July and September, come in response to rising social housing applications and temporary accommodation costs. The proposed changes will not only mean the council will help people resolve their housing problems by providing substantial support but also aim to reduce the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation in the borough. The council is working hard through its Gateway scheme to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless, as prevention is always the better option.

In March 2016, the council was accommodating nearly 3,000 households in temporary housing and in the last five years the council’s annual temporary accommodation bill has risen from £1.4m to £5.5m.

The council already offers alternatives to temporary accommodation, including providing a deposit and one month’s rent in advance for homeless households wanting to move into the private sector.

Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning

“London has an affordable housing crisis and, in Croydon, this means a long waiting list for a council property and a lot of people in temporary accommodation.

“Those in greatest need will always get council housing first, but the new allocations criteria will also ensure local people and those that engage with the council to prevent their homelessness, and that are desperate for a home, are given priority.”

If approved at cabinet, the updated housing allocations criteria will come into effect at the end of the year, and the choice based lettings system will go-live in Spring.

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