Hackney fails to capitalise on a way to house the homeless… and goes shy when asked about it

Homeless16: under municipal balcony in Haggerston Park Hackney London 080316 © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com
Very little helps little: small comforts on a Haggerston Park bench in Hackney

HACKNEY COUNCIL has made no attempt to seize any of the 20,000 empty London homes that are in the borough, despite having the law on its side.

Asked by Loving Dalston what use it had made of legislation allowing it to bring an empty property back into use, the council said it had never used the law.

Empty dwelling management orders (Edmos) came into effect in 2006.

The town hall said: “Hackney council has not made any empty dwelling management orders.”

Homeless0517: street beggar collapsed in sunshine in Kingsland Rd Shoreditch Hackney 280517 © DavidAltheer[at]gmail.com
Street beggar in fashionable Shoreditch: at least he has a dog for companionship:

The council would use an order only as a last resort “as we choose instead to work actively with landlords to return long-term empty homes in the private sector to residential use by informal encouragement, advice, financial assistance, a rent deposit scheme and a private sector leasing initiative.

The council added: “Four-hundred and twenty-two long-term empty homes have been returned to use since 2006 as a result, including 45 in the last financial year 2016-2017.”

Significantly, no councillor or employee was willing to put their name to the comment.

Hackney has often praised itself on housing, as when it said that by giving grants worth thousands of pounds to landlords, it had created “221 new homes” from empty properties in two years. They would be offered to let to people on Hackney’s housing waiting list.

In its latest response, it did not volunteer how many empty homes were in the borough. In 2012 it was giving council tax reductions to just over 1,000 domestic properties because they were unoccupied.

Homeless under an arch near Hackney Fashion Hub in London winter 2017 © David Altheer
Homeless under an arch near Hackney Fashion Hub winter

That figure is likely too be much higher, given the property boom throughout the borough, positioned well as it is for workers in the City and West End, but which has attracted investors from Russia and the Middle and Far East who sometimes leave flats empty in hope of rising prices.

As for so-called affordable flats, a phrase bandied about by councillors, developers and speculators, nurses, police and other essential workers, along with thousands of millennials who work in inner London, have had to spend most of their pay on high rents.

More than 15,000 people were on the council-housing waiting list in 2010, and a similar number were living in what was deemed unsuitable or overcrowded housing. At least 2,000 were registered as homeless.

Homeless16; man checks recycle and other bin for food/drink remnants Amhurst Rd Hackney London E8 301216
One of Hackney’s many bag people checks a recycler for refreshments

Hackney did not volunteer how many empty homes were in the borough but in 2012 it was giving council tax reductions to just over 1,000 domestic properties because they were unoccupied.

That figure is likely too be much higher, given the property boom throughout the borough, positioned well as it is for workers in the City and West End, but which has attracted overseas investors, who sometimes leave flats empty in expectation of rising prices.

More than 15,000 people were on the council-housing waiting list in 2010, and a similar number were living in what was deemed unsuitable or overcrowded housing. At least 2,000 were registered as homeless.

Sir Steve Bullock, of the London Councils executive, said that local government was in the forefront of tackling the capital’s “housing crisis” and brought back into use hundreds of homes by “more effective means” every year.

David Altheer 180917

Backstory: Homeless at Hackney Fashion HubCould Hackney council  do more for Syrians? 

Homeless16: poss beds for street people in lane behind Premier Inn Dalston Ln E8 210116 © DavidAltheer[at]gmail.com
Amid costly homes, this makeshift hamlet arose in Dalston

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