by Dana Mirov, Enfield and Lea Valley Socialist Party
30 homeless families who live in a hotel in Enfield, north London, have been moved out because of demand for rooms during a Beyoncé concert. Families with children are often housed in hotels by councils due to lack of council housing. Whole families often live in one room.
Travelodge in Enfield is used by the council to house just some of the 3,100 homeless families in the borough — one of the highest rates of homelessness in the whole country. Travelodge doesn’t allow long-term bookings, so the council has to renew the bookings every month, which it failed to do.
Many will be put in other temporary accommodation outside the borough, away from their schools and communities, further disrupting their lives.
It is an outrage that families need to live in hotel rooms in the first place, indeed that there are homeless families at all! Many families become homeless after being evicted from private-rented accommodation.
Enfield also has one of the highest eviction rates in the country. With a desperate lack of council housing, there is no surprise at the borough’s shameful level of homelessness.
The Labour council could solve the problem, if there was a will to do so. It could use the massive housing development Meridian Water, built on council-owned land and where the council is the master builder, to build council housing.
The number of properties on Meridian Water is about the same as the number of registered homeless people in the borough. If 100% of those properties were council homes the problem would be solved with one stroke.
Instead, there will be 0% council housing, and none of the properties are for social rent. Most of the properties will be sold at market value, which shows that the council has developers’ interests at heart, rather than its own residents.
This doesn’t stop Enfield Tories opportunistically shedding crocodile tears for homeless families, claiming that the central government has given millions to the council to solve the problem. The Labour council and local Labour MPs blame the Tory government for lack of funds. The Labour council’s failure to provide decent housing has given the local Tories the opportunity to cynically pretend they care about homelessness.
The council spends half a million pounds every month on hotel rooms and other temporary accommodation. Enfield needs socialist councillors who will build council housing and fight the Tory central government for funds.
It is clearly a matter of choice not to invest in council housing, but instead line the pockets of private businesses and landlords.