Havering Council has decided to bid for a £24m grant from the Mayor of London to help buy properties for social housing over two years. 

The proposal to apply for funding was approved by Havering Council leader Ray Morgon on April 18.

The cash would enable the council to buy around 160 affordable homes to be owned and rented at social rent levels.

The notice of the decision published by the council said that the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) Council Housing Acquisitions Programme (CHAP) will provide a part of the money required for these acquisitions.

Its funding will be matched by the council’s Housing Revenue Account, the value for which was included in the latest budget approved on February 28.

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The CHAP was launched by GLA recently “in response to London’s urgent need for social housing and in recognition of the current increased costs of building new homes”.

The programme aims to deliver 10,000 new homes across London by helping councils increase their housing supply and reduce homelessness.

The notice claimed that the external grant will be “an excellent opportunity” for Havering to fund the costs of acquisitions from April 2024 and provide suitable accommodation for Havering residents with housing needs.

Under the scheme, the council can purchase ex-council homes that were sold via Right to Buy, street properties, “off the shelf” houses and properties that are “off plan”.

The funding, if approved by GLA, will have some conditions attached such as properties must be self-contained and not shared, they should be in a fit state to occupy for at least 30 years with no plans for demolition in the time frame and that rent levels must be set at social rent or up to affordable rent levels.

There are further standards imposed on building safety and recommended acquisitions mix like a 50-30 combination per year of new build and pre-owned properties with focus on buying good quality homes.

The notice revealed that Havering is experiencing high demand for council housing, which is triggered by the cost-of-living crisis and rise in homelessness.

A single homeless person staying in a hotel costs the council £73 a day on average, it said. This cost reportedly goes up to £91 for a family. With the option of social housing, these costs are expected to be saved.

“The grant bid set out in this report would benefit individuals and families within Havering that have a confirmed housing need, they may be in unsuitable accommodation or at risk of homelessness”, it said.