By Christopher Ubsdell and William Chick.
Lewisham Homeless Peoples Union is holding a demonstration outside the Town Hall to call on the Council to do more about the borough’s housing shortage. They also want more action to tackle increasing homelessness.
LHPU are calling on Lewisham Council to provide a homeless shelter over Christmas, to get people off the streets during the coldest period of the year. The protest is to take place on Thursday, 4 December.
Jamie of LHPU who is organising the protest said: “We want the Council to house or at least shelter people that are sleeping outside over Christmas. Lewisham Housing Action Group have offered to get a place up and running but the Council have to provide a space.
“A polish gentlemen that I met at a stall said he got turned away from the 999 club in Deptford recently because he had used it last year, so he wasn’t allowed to use it this year.”
LHPU also want the Council to demand 100 per cent affordable housing from developers to meet the housing needs of the borough.
Lewisham Council have built no social housing in the last thirty years. A spokeswoman from the Council told the South London Press: “The Council have long term plans to address homelessness, including 2000 affordable homes in four years and building Council housing for the first time in 30 years. But we are also looking at measures to get better and cheaper short germ housing options.”
The Council recently bought an old care home with a view to redevelopment, planning to turn it into a hostel for twenty homeless families.
Deptford shopkeeper Ash, said there should be a change at the top of the Labour run Council adding: “It would be common sense to build more Council housing.”
Charity shop-worker Tona, from Deptford applauded Lewisham for their help in creating a skate park for local children, but had concerns about the increase in homelessness: “We can’t say the Council are bad, but there needs to be more done to help the homeless. We have given up to 300 food parcels to local homeless people”
In the borough of Lewisham there are currently about 14,000 people on the housing register waiting for accommodation. On average, only 1,300 council properties become available to rent each year. 2000 people are living in temporary accommodation. According to charities 6,437 people were seen sleeping rough in London in 2013.