Orthodox tenants housing let down

By James Martin, July 16, 2009
Ita Symons: “Hackney is slowing the process down”

Ita Symons: “Hackney is slowing the process down”

An affordable housing scheme for Orthodox families in Stamford Hill is struggling to fill all its units because Hackney Council has failed to find “suitable” families as tenants.

Jewish housing association the Industrial Dwellings Society (IDS) purchased 20 units from Taylor Wimpey at Latham’s Yard in Upper Clapton in 2002, with the support of a £3 million Housing Corporation grant. The first 15 were occupied at the start of June.

However, Hackney Council will consider bids for the five four-bedroom maisonettes only from families in its priority band. These include families living in “overcrowded households needing two or more extra bedrooms”.

A council spokesperson said: “There are plenty of priority band Orthodox Jewish families who require the accommodation, but they need to be made more aware of the housing. Ward councillors are working to ensure the families know the maisonettes are available.”

Ita Symons, of the Agudas Israel Housing Association, which is letting the properties on behalf of the IDS, argued that “people in the general band, whose housing needs are deemed less urgent, should be invited to bid.”

Mrs Symons said there were “15 people from the general band who are ready to bid for the accommodation.” But Hackney’s “strict policy” on what qualified as “urgent needs” was slowing the process down.

IDS managing director Paul Westbrook said that while understanding Hackney’s position on priority bands, “I don’t think they should be so rigid as to only allow bids from people in the priority category.

“After all, in the Orthodox community families grow quickly and they can quickly become priority cases.”

Last updated: 9:36am, July 17 2009