Almost 90,000 Children Are Homeless In London

Number of families in temporary accommodation up by a third over five years

Almost 90,000 children are homeless in London, living in nearly 57,000 homeless households in the capital, the latest Government figures reveal.

Homeless children

Picture: Shelter

Of these 128 households, containing a total of 214 children, were in the London Borough of Merton, which. Merton has housed 61 households in other boroughs.

Merton has 81 households in nightly paid private accommodation, including 69 with children.

Overall there are almost a third more families are homeless than five years ago.

The revelation, from figures covering April-June 2019, came as the London Assembly health committee called on the Mayor to tackle poor housing for children.

Almost 400,000 children in the city live in overcrowded accommodation, the committee says it can put their health at risk.

It says boroughs should expand landlord licensing to include as many private rental properties as possible.

Licences are required by law in homes for three people or more who are not all the same family – but boroughs can choose to license more properties.

Councils can also take action against landlords if housing is physically unhealthy for tenants – but the committee says these powers should be expanded to include mental health risks too.

Chairman Dr Onkar Sahota said the Mayor should lobby the Government to change the law.

He said: “It pains me that families have to live in poor quality, overcrowded and insecure housing.

“This can really take its toll on people and can ultimately lead to poor physical and mental health for parents and children down the line.

“As a GP myself, I often come face to face with vulnerable families with physical and mental health issues associated with poor housing. The link can’t be denied.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Creating a healthier, fairer city, where nobody’s health suffers because of who they are or where they live is a top priority for Sadiq.

“But the hard truth is that the Government has ignored private renters and council housing for years – and this is the awful human cost.

“We need ministers to overhaul renting and fund a new generation of council housing if we are going to give children secure and good quality family homes.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the Government had a “moral imperative” to take action on homelessness.

He said: “More people are getting the support they need to start rebuilding their lives – backed by £1.2 billion of funding to reduce all forms of homelessness and rough sleeping, the duty we’ve placed on councils to provide vital help to those who need it, and our commitment to building the homes this country needs.”

Jessie Matthewson - Local Democracy Reporter

December 27, 2019