Dame Tessa Jowell has slammed the growing number of children living in temporary accommodation as “a private tragedy and a public disgrace” for Southwark.
The borough is now home to over 1,000 homeless children, according to “heartbreaking” new statistics highlighted by the politican, who is standing down as Dulwich and West Norwood MP at the upcoming general election.
There are 1,237 children living in temporary accommodation such as hostels or B&Bs – a huge 40% increase from 882 two years ago. This means that one in every 50 Southwark kids do not have the security and comfort of a permanent home.
Ms Jowell said: “It’s heartbreaking to see so many children in Southwark growing up without the basic necessity of their own home. Inequality is robbing these children of their childhood.
“What children need above all is stability, but that’s extremely hard to come by in temporary accommodation. Cramped living conditions, stressed parents and the endless, day-to-day uncertainty of homelessness can do untold damage to children at just the time when they most benefit from a safe environment.”
Kate Webb, head of policy for housing charity Shelter, agreed.
She told the News: “No child should have to go through the trauma of homelessness and it’s heart-breaking to see such a dramatic rise in the number of children living in temporary accommodation, both in Southwark and across the capital.
“Every day at Shelter we speak to homeless parents having to raise their children in a place that offers no stability, leaving many experiencing severe emotional distress, facing three hour round trips to school and having to eat their dinner on the floor. This just isn’t right.”
Councillor Richard Livingstone, Southwark’s cabinet member for housing, blamed the problem on “changes to welfare provision and the downside of the privately rented sector.”He said: “To help address this, we are opening new temporary accommodation over the summer at Willow Walk, D’Eynsford Estate and at Waterloo Road. Longer term, we’ve embarked on an ambitious home building programme which will see 11,000 high quality and affordable homes built for local people by 2043, with the first 1,500 complete by 2018.”