Charity chief speaks out about the “unbearable” plight of London’s 88,000 homeless children

“Unbearable.” That’s how Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, describes the plight of more than 88,000 homeless children living in temporary accommodation across London. “Life in temporary accommodation is hugely destabilising for children and can weigh heavily on their development at school, as well their physical and mental health,” says Neate, responding to questions from London Intelligence.

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Why was the Grenfell Tower covered in cladding as part of its refurbishment?

Grenfell Tower fire survivors, bereaved relatives, evacuated residents and the wider traumatised local community broadly welcome Sir Moore-Bick’s first phase inquiry report. Yet a significant few publicly criticise him for concentrating the first phase of his inquiry largely on the night of the fire and the LFB’s response. They wanted the first phase of the inquiry to have dealt with the question of why was the Grenfell Tower covered in flammable cladding as part of its refurbishment – and by whom?

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Over 88,000 homeless London children live in temporary accommodation

Over 88,080 homeless London children were living in temporary accommodation at the end of March 2019 – almost enough to fill every seat in Wembley Stadium.* Another 37,940 homeless children were living in temporary accommodation across other parts of England, writes Paul Coleman. These government figures solemnly measure the chronic housing crisis facing working class people in London and in other towns and cities. The insecurity of living in temporary accommodation denies all of these children a proper childhood and limits what they may become in their future lives. The strain on family life is immeasurable too.

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Maria’s story: the human cost of ‘temporary’ housing

‘We have got a letter to state we are moving out of our dungeon in four weeks. But where to? My blood boils with nerves. Wondering if they will put us in another place like this. I have to stay strong, not only for myself but for my parents as well. I am 14, old enough to understand the consequences of moving. We have to fight for a fairytale – because it does not exist.’ – Maria, 14, north London, on what life is like for the 56,280 families who live – often for many years – in temporary accommodation across London.

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The tragic meaning of a raw statistic

Picture Wembley Stadium full of 90,000 people. It helps to grasp the tragic meaning of the following raw statistic: 84,740 households across England were living in ‘temporary accommodation’ at the end of March 2019. 56,280 of these households are forced to live in this precarious state across London, one of the richest cities on Earth. Why?

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“London: one of the most exciting games of Monopoly ever played” – Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson extends his Monopoly metaphor. “There are people in this room who can genuinely claim that they have got Park Lane,” thunders Johnson. “Who’s got Piccadilly? Yes, Land Securities…And who’s got the Old Kent Road? And why not? My friends, that’s my message to you. We’re going to need a bigger revised Monopoly board for London.”

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Still no sprinkler systems – two years after Grenfell and ten years after Lakanal

Central and local government politicians continue to ignore calls to retrofit sprinkler systems to existing council house tower blocks – despite the deaths of 78 people at the Lakanal House and Grenfell Tower fires. Thousands of residents still live with the constant risk of fire, writes Paul Coleman.

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PROMISES, PARLIAMENT AND THE GRENFELL TOWER FIRE

Campaigners have projected the slogan, ‘2 years after Grenfell this building still hasn’t kept its promises’, onto the Houses of Parliament.Grenfell United – campaigning on behalf of survivors, bereaved and residents – carried out the protest. Nobody has yet been arrested for the fire on the Lancaster West council estate of 14 June 2017 that killed 72 people.

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Elephant and Castle: ‘regenerate’ and destroy

Londoners enjoy great views of London from Alexandra Palace. The Elephant and Castle can be seen seven miles away but the view conceals more than it reveals. Residents in the Elephant and Castle and Walworth struggle with developers and a local council hellbent on a type of ‘regeneration’ that causes net losses of council homes and forces working class people out of this south London neighbourhood. Now this corporate gentrification threatens to destroy the livelihoods of people who trade and work at the area’s landmark Shopping Centre. Is the Elephant and Castle destined to be a domain just for the wealthy? Is ‘regeneration’ degenerating London’s unique character and culture?

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London: a Real Estate City as seen from the People’s Palace

The view of London from Alexandra Palace conceals more than it reveals. A ‘havoc’ of luxury residential and office towers gives London’s skyline a jagged edge. They are the product of an unaccountable and powerful alliance between global corporate capital interests and a cadre of London’s leading politicians, including the Mayor of London. This opaque ‘local market state’ severely cramps the life chances of working Londoners on average and lower incomes, demolishing Londoners’ secure council homes – and then denying Londoners the secure and genuinely affordable homes they desperately need.

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