Response: Grenfell Draft Walkways Policy

By: Deborah Garvie  Published: January 2018


Shelter's response to Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea consultation on it's Draft Walkways Rehousing Policy

Summary

For the residents of the Lancaster West Estate, and the surrounding neighbourhood, the Grenfell Tower fire caused exceptional levels of trauma, in terms of witnessing the horror of the blaze, dealing with the loss or injury of relatives, friends and neighbours, and in coping with the aftermath.

It is very important that people who require rehousing as a result of the fire are offered suitable permanent rehousing as quickly as possible.  It is unreasonable to expect people affected by the fire to make successive moves unless they express a preference to do so.

The proposal to restrict priority only to residents of the Walkways is too blunt an approach because it is based on the road (or walkway) on which people were living, rather than their proximity to the tower and/or the trauma and disruption they have experienced.

We strongly support the desire to balance the needs of residents directly affected by the fire against other residents in the locality in serious need of rehousing.  Many of those who approach our services are in highly unsuitable accommodation and are currently unable to bid on any properties.

We recommend that:

- Residents who do not live on the Walkways, but who directly witnessed the fire from their homes, or were traumatised by the fire in some other way, and feel it would be unreasonable to return, should be covered by the policy or, at the very least, treated as an exception.

- Households should be prioritised on the basis of cumulative need, with the addition of a category for being traumatised by the Grenfell fire.  This should allow households with pressing need (e.g. disability) priority over other people caught by the policy who have less acute or chronic need.  

- Residents subject to the policy should not have to move into temporary accommodation to receive rehousing priority.

- We disagree with the proposed two-offer policy.  Two offers are not enough for people who might be severely traumatised by the fire.

- The borough should review its homelessness strategy to set out how it will make sure that sufficient accommodation is available in the neighbourhood to tackle homelessness and poor housing conditions.  This should include details of its procurement strategy.

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