The Government set up London Hostels Association Ltd (LHA) on the 5th of November 1940, where a ‘Council of Management’ was put in charge of providing hostels for the homeless.
The Council went to work looking for buildings that could each hold about 50 people. But with bombs falling every night, buildings had to have basements or other spaces that could be converted into bomb shelters. This proved difficult, but nevertheless, some ten weeks after the company was formed, Mrs Churchill opened the first hostel in January 1941. The charges were £1 a week plus a shilling for any meals on Saturday and Sunday!
By the end of 1942 there were 33 hostels housing some 700 people, many of whom had been brought to London for job roles created by the war. By the 1950’s the number of hostels had been reduced, and the bulk of our residents were young people recruited in the provinces for work in Government departments. This continued to be the situation until the seventies, by which time there were 17 hostels.
Today, LHA is a charity governed by a voluntary Board of Trustees. We now have 13 large hostels where we cater for all young people in need of affordable accommodation looking to work or study in the world’s greatest city.