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Empty units in New Addington retirement blocks could be used to house homeless

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ELDERLY residents in sheltered accommodation could find themselves sharing their buildings with homeless families under new plans to tackle the borough's housing crisis.

The council is exploring the possibility of converting empty units in some retirement housing schemes into temporary accommodation for homeless households.

Dudley Mead, the council's cabinet member for housing, confirmed that Beech House and neighbouring Cedar House, in Fieldway, were among the schemes being looked at, although nothing had been decided.

He said the uses would be separated, adding: "I am of the view that rather than [homeless families] being in a bed and breakfast actually having your own roof and own front door is better."

The number of homeless applications in Croydon increased by 35 per cent between 2009/10 and 2011/12, from 1680 to 2176, and is projected to rise further.

Jim Beer, who has lived in the 66-unit Cedar House for 30 years, said the prospect would likely meet with opposition from its residents.

The 78-year-old said: "The whole purpose of this building is for the elderly and we know that is why it is called sheltered housing.

"If the council goes down that road they will find a big fight on their hands."

A cabinet report last month said the option was among a range of measures intended to make a "significant contribution" to providing enough temporary accommodation.


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