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Families may wait 62 years for social housing
MORE families in Brent may have to move out of the borough as benefit changes begin to take effect, a councillor has warned.
The housing crisis is affecting householders as a combination of high rents, low wages, government capping of housing benefits and a further cap on other benefits are introduced.
Some people on Brent Council's 18,000 people-long waiting list could wait up to 62 years to be rehoused, the lead member for housing has warned.
At an executive meeting at the council on Monday , councillors heard the Counihans family describe how they have lived in the borough for decades but had to move to Ealing after they disclosed they had been left a piece of land in Ireland, meaning they were ineligible for benefits.
Anthony Counihan and his wife, Isabel, are concerned because their five children all go to school or nursery in Brent, and he said they couldn't afford to stay in Brent on his bus driver's salary.
The family, supported by Brent Trade Union Council, the Unemployed Workers Group and Brent Fightback, protested at the meeting to raise awareness of their plight.
Mrs Counihan said afterwards: "We are Brent people, the children are Brent children and we can no longer afford to live in the borough."
Some families on the council's waiting list are being offered homes in Enfield, north London, Slough and Luton, but they may have to start looking further afield, according to Janice Long, lead member for housing for Brent Council.
Ms Long said after the meeting: "They [the Counihans] are not the first and they are not going to be the last who can't afford to live where they want because of the benefit cap and high rent prices.
"This family need a large house and people waiting for a four-bedroom house may have to wait up to 62 years. We are going to be seeing more people moving out of the borough due to the changes. So far people have moved willingly, but we will have to start looking further afield."
Housing benefit changes from the government are being phased in and a national cap will take effect from next year.
Jim Smith, of Brent Irish Advisory Service, said: "Brent is an area of particular housing stress and it is becoming unaffordable, not just for people who are unemployed but for people who are working hard in middle income jobs. People are having to move out of the borough and this is happening increasingly."
The executive approved motions for flexible tenancy strategies, future arrangements of the housing stock and reinvesting in affordable homes to help ease the pressure on housing.
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