Camden set to take urgent action to reduce overcrowding as Cabinet asked to agree £130M investment in family homes
The council’s Cabinet are to be asked to agree an urgent new strategy that will reduce the number of families living in overcrowded homes and increase the number of family-sized council homes in Camden.
280 former Right-to-Buy council homes, each with at least two or three bedrooms, will be purchased by the council to increase the number of family homes that are available at social rent.
The programme will provide more than 100 Camden families living in severely crowded conditions with a suitable home and make hundreds of additional bed spaces available to residents on the council’s housing register. Where possible, the council will also convert properties to larger four, five, or six bed homes.
The five-year programme will be self-funded by the sale of a limited number of smaller studio and one-bed homes owned by the council that do not meet the most pressing housing needs of residents, have significant repair costs, or fall short of the standard residents can expect.
The shortage of good quality, genuinely affordable family homes is one of the biggest challenges facing our borough. Too many families are currently living in overcrowded conditions and, whilst we are building thousands of new homes through our Community Investment Programme, government cuts continue to limit how much we can do. This new approach to buying back properties means we can get more families into the homes they need sooner.
In Camden we believe in council housing - this approach is about investing in our residents now and also in the future of our council housing stock for this and the next generation. We want all children in Camden to have the very best start in life, and homes that have enough space for them to grow and thrive are fundamental for their health, education and development.
We are taking urgent action wherever we can to address the shortage of homes needed for our families. Having recently announced a bold expansion of our housebuilding programme to build 2,600 affordable and larger new homes as soon as we can, we are now also investing in family homes available locally that have been lost through years of damaging Right-to-Buy.
We will replace our homes that are not in demand, or not up to the standard we want for our residents, with desperately needed larger homes. The immediate goal is to take over 100 families out of severely overcrowded homes, but the programme represents another significant step forward towards ending overcrowding altogether and boosting the number of affordable family homes in our borough.
40 per cent of the council’s homes are studios and one-bed flats. While the homes involved in the programme represent just over one per cent of the council’s total housing stock, the purchase of 280 family-sized homes will provide up to 410 much-needed additional bedspaces for Camden families.
A proportion of studio and one-bed homes included in the programme that are suitable to be rented privately to residents will be sold to Camden Living, Camden’s independent housing company, as a ‘preferred buyer’ so that the council can retain the property while raising vital funds to invest in larger homes and ensuring the home remains available to residents at an affordable rate of rent.
The council will also introduce an enhanced package of support for families who are experiencing overcrowding, while continuing to offer financial support from the Overcrowding Relief Fund and incentives for council tenants with spare bedrooms to downsize, which can be worth upwards of £6,500 for tenants in properties with two bedrooms or more.
At the same time, Camden is continuing to build new family sized homes through its housebuilding programme, which has delivered over 990 new homes to date and provided new council homes to over 1,000 residents, including 453 children, many of whom previously lived in overcrowded conditions.