Housing the Grenfell survivors

A year on from the tragedy, has the government kept its word on housing the displaced residents?

Photos taken at the #MayMustGo protest at Downing Street on Saturday 17th June 2017.

After the Grenfell fire – a year ago today – government made two promises to the displaced residents.

Prime minister Theresa May said they would all be rehoused within three weeks and housing minister Alok Sharma promised a permanent home within a year.

The survivors, who lived in 138 of the flats in the tower and the adjacent Grenfell Walk, have now split into 203 households – 116 from the tower and 22 from the walk.

By 5 July, three weeks after the fire, all of those 138 households that wanted contact with the council had been offered temporary accommodation – but only nine of these offers, of an interim flat or house, had been accepted, with most families still living in hotel rooms.

As of 13 June, 364 days after the fire, the council has committed over £235m to secure 307 homes, most but not all of which has now been spent.

As of 13 June, according to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea:

  • The council has made a total of 971 offers of some kind of accommodation to the 203 households
  • 198 of the 203 have now accepted an offer of a home
  • 135 of these have moved in – 52 into an temporary home, 83 into a permanent home
  • 68 households from Grenfell Tower and Walk are still living in emergency accommodation – of these, 42 are in hotels, 22 are in serviced apartments and four are staying with family or friends
  • 90 households from the surrounding estate – but not the tower or Grenfell Walk – are also still living in emergency or temporary accommodation, prior to moving back to their original homes.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, says the fact so many people are still living in emergency or temporary accommodation is “disgraceful” but a symptom of the fact there is simply not enough housing available.

“It isn’t really true to say that the council haven’t made any effort to rehouse people,” she says.

“It also isn’t true to say that the former residents of Grenfell are being fussier than they should be in any way.

“There is a dire shortage of housing. And if that teaches us anything, it’s that we need to be building more housing.”

Council leader, Elizabeth Campbell, said: “The families involved are not statistics that need to be moved around a balance sheet. So, we will no longer set deadlines. They are not required.

“What is required is understanding, support, and above all a willingness to do everything we can to help – no matter how large or small the task.”

A spokesman for the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Ministers have been clear that the council must work quickly to rehouse survivors.

“And we expect them to do whatever is necessary to ensure people can move into settled homes as swiftly as possible.”

Photo by Garry Knight.

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