Three-fold increase in Bromley’s destitute
»A three-fold increase in the number of applications to the housing register in the past year has revealed the shocking extent of the recession’s fallout.
Bromley Council officers say they had seen a 96 per cent increase in the number of people applying for social housing in February to April this year alone, with some 5,000 new applicants since last year.
Sandy Greenfield, who runs the borough’s only homeless shelter – The 5,000 Project – has seen a huge increase in the number of women and young people left destitute.
She said: “It is very sad. A lot of this is because people have lost their jobs. That can lead to relationship breakdown and then they are left homeless.
“It used to be a 90/10 ratio of men to women coming here but now it’s around 70/30.
‘Very sad and scary’
“I have 16-year-olds coming. Around 45 per cent are 21 or under at the moment and it’s increasing.
“Kids stay with friends, hopping around like kangaroos, but sooner or later they outstay their welcome and then they’re on the street.Then it becomes very sad and scary.
“A man came to me who had worked all his life and had five children. His house burnt down and his relationship broke up. His life had gone up in smoke, literally.”
Bromley has no hostels – the majority are in central London and it is more difficult than ever to get a place.
A council scheme exists which guarantees the deposit and the first month’s rent of any tenant but Ms Greenfield said the estate agents and private landlords are not keen.
She said: “It is a landlord’s market at the moment. More people than ever are renting so they have their pick of tenants.”
The council’s plans to prevent homelessness include mediation with families, mortgage rescue and debt advice.
A spokesman said: “There has been a sustained rise in the number of households coming to the council at risk of losing their home.
“Our focus is to support households to keep their homes using a range of initiatives. We are also helping people to access the range of housing options available, particularly in the private sector.”