Growing homelessness, unemployment and poverty predicted for borough

Rough sleeping, Tottenham High Road

By Bella Saltiel

An analysis of the impact of Covid-19 on Haringey’s low income residents, has revealed that more than 2000 households in the borough could be at risk of being made homeless.

The council’s Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny panel stated in September that 2062 households could be at risk of homelessness across all housing tenures. Of these, 1452 live in the private rented sector, with around half of these residents being at risk now that the Covid-19 temporary ban on evictions has been lifted.

The council has housed 700 vulnerable individuals at risk of rough sleeping in temporary accommodation since March 2020. This led to a drop in the number of families presenting as homeless − nearly 34% lower since March 2020 compared to 2019.

The economic effects of the pandemic have hit low income families the hardest across the country. Research by Shelter and YouGov has found 322,000 adult private renters have fallen into rent arrears since the pandemic started.

The District Councils Network has also warned that the loss of income because of Covid-19 restrictions, might make 500,000 privately-renting households homeless.

Tottenham currently has the highest furlough and unemployment rate of all constituencies in the country. The Times recently revealed there to be an estimated 32,500 people on furlough, and approximately 12,450 claiming Universal Credit; meaning 45% of Tottenham’s working age population are currently not working.

Tonye Philemon who runs Tottenham Foodbank says that since the start of the pandemic, 65% of the people now accessing the services are single adults.

Laura (surname withheld) has been put on furlough from her part-time job at Craving Coffee in Markfield Road. She said: “I’m worried I won’t be able to pick up enough work, […] at the age of 49, I need to start learning some new skills again.”

“Before the pandemic, if you were a good barista, you would never be out of work.”

Now that the furlough scheme has ended, Tottenham could see a high concentration of unemployment, spikes in poverty, and a potential housing crisis.

The council says it has started a programme of targeted intervention aimed at households identified to be at risk, in order to support residents threatened with homelessness.

Cllr Emina Ibrahim, Cabinet Member for Housing and Estate Renewal, said: “In common with all local authorities, Haringey is expecting to experience a rise in homelessness as a consequence of the impact of Covid-19.

“Thousands of people have been furloughed in Haringey and our research indicates that a significant number of households are at risk of losing their homes. Working in partnership, we have taken strong measures to address this.”

These measures include, longer notice periods for private tenants, and planned moves to alternative accommodation wherever possible.

Haringey council faces a lot of pressure, as there is already a very high demand for housing in the borough.

There are currently 10,000 households on the waiting list for permanent social housing, and 3,100 homeless households in temporary accommodation, facing an average waiting list of eleven years, eight months for a three-bed flat.

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