Croydon offered properties in Manchester and Walsall to ease housing crisis
A PROPERTY developer has offered Croydon Council nearly 100 homes in Manchester and Walsall to help ease its housing crisis.
If agreed, dozens of homeless families could be offered the opportunity to move to the West Midlands or Lancashire.
The council has been offered 96 units, 67 in Greater Manchester and a further 29 in Walsall.
The company approached the council after an Advertiser report on a plan to pay for destitute families to move to seaside towns in Yorkshire received national media attention.
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Hull was one of the towns being discussed as a possible destination in an attempt to tackle a growing homelessness crisis in Croydon, epitomised by more than 300 families who face Christmas in a bed and breakfast.
Councillor Dudley Mead, Croydon's cabinet member for housing, finance and asset management, said a deal which could see those families offered accommodation in Manchester or Walsall was still some way off.
He added: "To receive offers of such a large amount of accommodation is very encouraging.
"It's a significant amount. If I had three times that number it would solve our problem.
"It's early days but I would be looking for a minimum of a five-year lease, possibly ten.
"A charity in Croydon has also approached me with two units which we are going to take.
"There's no compulsion to leave the borough. The question we will ask is do they want to stay in a bed and breakfast, or the opportunity of going elsewhere?"
Temporary accommodation is a very limited resource only offered to those in "extreme housing crisis." Croydon has run out of social housing, so more and more families are being put up in bed and breakfasts or hotels.
The number of homeless families in this situation increased fivefold in three years, from 61 in 2008 to more than 300 now.
Figures released this week show an £812,000 overspend in this year's budget for bed and breakfast placements, put down to increased demand and rising costs.
Cllr Mead revealed this week that the council uses some of the Government's new homes bonus, given to local authorities as an incentive for housing growth, to offset this expenditure.
The council has looked to other areas of the country where housing is more readily available. The average monthly rent for a two bedroom house in Walsall is £474, compared to £935 in Croydon.
Kay Boycott, director of campaigns, policy and communications at homelessness charity Shelter, said: "The fact that a council is offering people homes hundreds of miles away – uprooting families from schools, communities and jobs – is testament to the scale of London's housing crisis."