Over the summer we are running a series of workshops for Origin Housing to help their residents move out of temporary accommodation and into their own place. The word temporary here is misleading. Temporary housing is supposed to be a pit stop for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. In reality, with a depleted council stock and soaring rents in the private rented sector, most people struggle to find somewhere they can afford to move into.
Our first workshop was on Thursday 23rd of May and we were taken aback by how many people showed up. Over 40 people came to the workshop and we had to turn many away as there physically wasn’t any space left in the room. The huge turnout showed that people wanted change, and it was inspiring to see.
One man stated that he had been in the same ‘temporary’ housing for 8 years and had lost hope of living by himself. There were many others like him. People in their 30s and 40s who still had to share a bathroom with 4 other people that they didn’t know. The atmosphere was a mix of frustration and excitement but everyone was determined to improve their difficult situations.
Our workshops are designed to help them prepare for moving out and start living by themselves. Their two main options are to live in social housing or private rented accommodation.
Neither option is easy. Social housing is the most sought after option, offering affordable rents and secure tenancies. But the demand for these homes is huge and only a small number become available each year, resulting in extraordinarily long waiting lists. In Enfield, only 1 person in every 10 who apply for social housing succeeds in ever getting a home. The ones who do succeed will be in ‘priority need’, leaving everybody else waiting for years.
Moving into private rented accommodation has its own obstacles. Sky-high rents and insecure tenancies make this option expensive and people are wary of becoming homeless if their landlord chooses to put up the rent without notice. However, if you manage your finances carefully and establish a good relationship with your landlord, this option can work well for some people.
Over the summer, our workshops will be helping these people plan and prepare for moving out of their temporary accommodation and into their own home. We are making sure that as well as knowing their options, they also know how to manage a successful tenancy once they’ve moved out, and where to turn to if they need help.
Underpinning all of this is a chronic shortage of affordable homes. Although we can help some move out, until this issue is resolved, many will remain trapped in temporary accommodation for years.