Housing

Introduction

Haringey contains areas of relative affluence and concentrations of significant deprivation, and we face exciting opportunities and serious challenges in meeting our aspirations for housing. The borough has high levels of need for units of affordable accommodation, and many existing homes do not meet required standards of decency, or are situated in run-down areas. At the same time the borough contains highly successful neighbourhoods, and there are significant regeneration schemes underway.

Housing has a significant role to play in improving quality of life and contributes to a wide range of outcomes. Poor quality housing can have significant negative effects on people’s physical health; it can be the cause of, or contribute to many health problems, including respiratory illness, hypothermia, heart attacks and strokes. These negative effects are most keenly felt by older vulnerable people, on top of which, symptoms of arthritis are exacerbated by excess cold and damp and strength and dexterity decrease, increasing the risk of falls.

The associated stress and anxiety that often goes hand-in-hand with unsuitable housing can also lead to feelings of helplessness and increases the risk of depression and other mental health conditions. Cold or overcrowded households, where it becomes difficult to do homework, can have significant negative effects on the educational development of children and their long-term opportunities for sustained employment. Even when housing is suitable, the upheaval and uncertainty that goes with becoming homeless or at risk of losing a home, can cause or exacerbate mental health problems.

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Key issues and gaps

House prices and affordability

In London, housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable and home ownership is not an option for the majority of forming households; subsequently there are higher proportions of renters than elsewhere in England. Between 2004 and 2012, Haringey remained above London and England in terms of the house price to income ratio, albeit it has broadly followed the same trend. In 2000, house prices were 6.5 times the earnings in Haringey, compared to 5.6 times in London and 4.2 times in England. In 2012, house prices were 10.96 times the earnings in Haringey, compared to 6.7 times in England.

In September 2013, the average house price in Haringey was £403,447, up 9.2% from the previous year, making the owner-occupier sector unavailable to the majority of residents. Demand for housing has reached such high levels in Haringey that to address both projected newly arising need and the current backlog, an annual programme of over 4,000 additional affordable homes is estimated to be required.

Based on the 2011 Census data, we know that 58.2% of households in the borough are living in rented accommodation (social and private rented), (figure 1). This is higher than London (47.8%) and England (33.1%). 17% of Haringey households live in council accommodation, with 10% in Housing Association, 30% in private rented and 40% owner occupiers. Owner occupation is greater in the west, with concentrations of social rented housing in the east of the borough, reflecting a wider social and economic polarisation. 30% of Haringey’s population live in wards ranked among the 10% most deprived in England.

Figure 1: Tenure change from 2001 to 2011, Haringey and London

Source: Census 2011

In common with other London authorities, Haringey is faced with a severe imbalance in the demand and supply of affordable housing. This, coupled with an increasingly unaffordable private sector in both the rented and owner-occupier markets, has led to a large number of families living in temporary accommodation. For these reasons for many households with priority need, we have a severe shortfall of larger, family sized properties.

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Who is at risk and why

Homelessness is a complex problem that can have a long-term negative impact on those affected by it. It is both the cause and consequence of many other problems, such as family and relationship breakdown, domestic violence, mental ill-health, substance misuse, the loss of employment, and debt.

The uncertainty experienced by homeless people can cause increased stress, especially with lengthy periods living in temporary accommodation. The lack of control some people feel can lead to periods of depression especially if their reason for homelessness in the first place was a distressing one

Rough sleepers

Rough sleepers in Haringey are among the most vulnerable groups in the borough; many have high support needs resulting from dependence on alcohol and drugs or have mental health issues.

Older people

An ageing society is one of the great challenges for housing. National governments over the past decade has identified this as an area where significant changes need to be made, not only in the actual buildings but in challenging society’s perceptions of what housing for older people should mean. There are strong links between older age, housing and health, and we recognise the interdependence of these.

Private sector tenants

The majority of private sector tenants live in suitable housing provided by responsible landlords. However, there are those living in properties that verge on being criminal in their inadequacy, many properties are overcrowded and there are those that do not even meet minimum health and safety standards. Low paid workers are most at risk of finding themselves living in these properties.

People living in overcrowded households

Overcrowded housing can have potentially devastating impacts on family cohesion and wellbeing. Living in overcrowded conditions can lead to increased anxiety, depression and relationship breakdown.

Households in fuel poverty

Vulnerable groups on low incomes, especially older people, are typically most affected by fuel poverty; in some cases faced with a choice that would be unimaginable to most, whether to heat or eat. There is a greater prevalence of fuel poverty among people aged over 60 years of age, single people under 60 and households with children.

The consequences of fuel poverty can be severe; fuel poor householders are more susceptible in particular to respiratory illness such as bronchitis and asthma, and are at increased risk of strokes and heart attacks. The associated stress and anxiety that often goes hand in hand with fuel poverty can also lead to feelings of helplessness and depression.

(Fuel poverty is dealt with by a separate section of the JSNA).

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The level of need of the population

Social Housing

In Haringey there are 28,000 social rented homes, just over half of which are owned by the council. Most of the stock is estate-based and the vast majority are flats. The two biggest social landlords in Haringey are Homes for Haringey (the council’s ALMO) and London and Quadrant Housing Trust. Between them, they manage two thirds of social rented housing in the borough.

Demand for social housing far outweighs supply, with around 10,000 households on Haringey’s housing register and just under 2,880 (footnote 1) homeless households living in temporary accommodation. Each year, between 800 and 1000 new tenancies are created; two thirds of these are allocated to homeless households and most are from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups.

In Haringey there is a direct correlation between the high concentration of social housing/temporary accommodation and those wards ranked as the most deprived in the borough. A high proportion of tenants are either on out-of-work benefits or receive benefits to top up their low incomes.

Households in receipt of housing benefit

Government started to introduce a cap on the total amount of money that households can receive in welfare benefits in April 2013. In Haringey, 747 households had their benefits capped between 15 April and 16 August 2013.

Challenges faced by capped households:

  • Households affected by the cap in Haringey are facing significant challenges:
  • People who are already marginalised in society are disproportionately affected by the benefit cap. Without interventions to offset the impact, social disadvantage is likely to grow over time
  • Over 2300 children live in households whose income has been capped. The effects on these children could include instability in education, increasing tensions within the home, sudden relocation and loss of social and educational opportunities or networks
  • Wider welfare reforms/cuts, such as the introduction of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, have hit at the same time as the cap and have further reduced household incomes
  • Where households are facing a large shortfall, are far from the labour market, and are not receiving Discretionary Housing Payments, their move into serious financial problems will be rapid
  • Agencies responses can sometimes give less attention to households living in the private rented sector, who are likely to be disproportionately affected by the biggest losses and also be the people less likely to ask for help.

Although the cap is now fully operational in Haringey, work to support affected households, address impacts on organisations and revise local policies will need to continue for many months yet.

The data presented below show households capped as at 16 August 2013, when 747 households in Haringey were subject to the cap. At May 2013 (the most recent data point), 36,824 households were in receipt of housing benefit in the borough, so households subject to the cap make up 2% of the total caseload.

Of the 747 households capped:

  • 333 (45%) lived in private rented accommodation
  • 319 (43%) lived in temporary accommodation
  • 57 (8%) lived in housing association homes,
  • and 38 (5%) were council tenants (footnote 2).

74% of households were headed by a single adult, and 24% by couples (there was no information regarding the remaining 2%).

The total number of children currently affected is believed to be 2383. This compares to 2000 at the end of May. Households subject to the cap had between 0 and 10 children. 27% of households have 0-2 children, 38% have 3 children, and 35% have 4 or more children. Contrary to a widespread perception that the cap mostly applies to very large families, just 17% (129) of the affected households have 5 or more children. 60% of households had children below school age, affecting 1179 children, though this may well represent an undercount because the data set on children’s ages is incomplete.

The number of households subject to the cap will fluctuate as household circumstances change. These changes will primarily relate to household composition (number of adults and dependent children), employment status, rent levels, and household eligibility for ESA and DLA/PIP. This means that there will be an ongoing need to administer the cap (as with any housing benefit claim) and provide appropriate information and support for affected households.

Homelessness

The level of homelessness acceptances in Haringey reflects the level of poverty and deprivation in the borough. In 2012/13 the level of acceptances in London ranged across the boroughs, from under one per 1,000 to close to 12 per 1,000 (footnote 3). Haringey’s acceptances (605) ranked ninth highest (figure 2) among the 33 London Boroughs (six in every 1,000 households- the average across all boroughs was 4.5 per 1,000).

Figure 2: Households accepted as being homeless and in priority need per thousand households (2012/13)

The buoyant private rented market in London is leading to an increase in the numbers of homelessness presentations due to landlords seeking higher rents from benefit and low income tenants. The nature of the market is also leading to difficulties in procuring sufficient quantities of accommodation for prevention type measures.

Reasons for homelessness

In 2012/13, more than a third (38 per cent) of accepted applicants became homeless as a result of being asked to leave by parents, family or friends. This similar to 2011/12 where this reason accounted for 41 per cent of all accepted applicants.

A significant proportion of people were accepted by the council because their private rented Assured Shorthold Tenancies had been brought to an end. In the majority of these cases, landlords ended the tenancy without declaring any grounds relating to a breach of tenancy.

Ethnicity of homeless households

In 2012/13, applicants of black origin were over represented (figure 3) ; around 44 per cent of main applicants accepted by Haringey Council, compared with 18.7 per cent of these groups within the general population in Haringey (footnote 4). A housing study, which was completed in 2010 (footnote 5), mapped the major communities present in the North London sub-region. This study identified that Black African and Black Caribbean communities were concentrated in the east of Haringey, in wards which we know to be among the most deprived areas in England and where instances of overcrowding are highest (footnote 6).

Figure 3: Ethnicity of Haringey homeless acceptances

Two thirds of those accepted were lone parents, but the majority of these were lone female parents (338). 74 percent of households included dependent children.

Mental illness or disability and physical disability feature in 5.3 per cent and 2.6 per cent of acceptances respectively compared to 11 percent and 6 per cent in the previous year. The reduction could be attributed to an increase in homelessness prevention through accessing supported accommodation.

Prevention of homelessness

The ratio of homelessness preventions to acceptances is a good indicator of the effectiveness of homelessness prevention efforts but also reflects the increasing financial pressures on families and constrained housing supply. The ratio has deteriorated from 1.51 in 2010/11 to 0.84 in 2012/13. There were 505 homelessness preventions in the year, which represents a 9% reduction compared to 2011/12.

Temporary Accommodation

Research tells us that there are a range of negative impacts associated with living in temporary accommodation (TA) (footnote 7) which include increased pupil mobility, depression and worklessness (footnote 8). The experiences of families and 16/17 year olds, 2008. At the end of September 2013 there were 2,884 households in TA, 52 more than at the end of 2012/13.

There were 4953 children and young people (under 18) in TA in at the end of September 2013. 16 applicants were aged between 16 and 17, although this is not a clear indication of the numbers of homeless 16 and 17 year olds as many are assisted through social services.

Changes to the temporary accommodation subsidy system, the Local Housing Allowance, combined with high rents in some areas (particularly inner London Boroughs) have made it more difficult to secure TA and affordable private sector housing options for housing benefit claimants in some areas.

This may cause migration to less expensive areas, the displacement of homelessness households, interruption of health, education and support services and additional resources will be needed locally to support these families. The additional demand for accommodation in outer London boroughs may also lead to a shortage of good quality accommodation.

Rough sleepers

Of the 85 people (footnote 9) who were contacted by outreach services and/or arrived in or departed from accommodation in the period, 82% were male and 17% were female.

British nationals were most highly represented among this group (28) followed by rough sleepers from central and east European countries (19). Of the rough sleepers seen bedded down 60 (70 per cent) had one or more support needs related to drug, alcohol or mental health problems.

Older People

There are significant links between older age, housing and health and interdependencies need to be recognised when planning for the future challenges posed by our ageing population. Appropriate housing and location, with or without care and support, plays a key role in enabling people to live independently.

By 2020, nearly one in five of the population will be over 65 and projections show that by 2026 there will be a further 2.4 million older households in England than there are today. More people will live to be over 100, and on average, 10 of those years will be spent with a disability (footnote 10).

Figure 4: Tenure by age (Source: Census data)

The 2011 Census showed that 55 per cent of people over 55 were owner occupiers (figure 4). The number of people living alone is projected to rise to 9,096 by 2025, and of this number, those living alone with a limiting long-term illness is predicted to increase to 5,521 over the same period.

Overcrowding

Overcrowding is not just about a lack of storage space or a queue for the bathroom in the morning, it can have significant negative impacts on family cohesion and wellbeing. Living in overcrowded conditions can lead to increased anxiety, depression and relationship breakdown. The effects of living in overcrowded conditions are perhaps most keenly felt by children; it is estimated that children growing up in difficult housing conditions are 25% more likely to suffer severe ill health and disability during childhood/early adulthood (footnote 11). Overcrowding can also impact negatively on a child’s educational and emotional development (figure 5); a lack of space to study, for example, can lead to academic underachievement and strained family relations which can lead to feelings of isolation and unhappiness. A survey of 505 overcrowded households carried out by Shelter in 2005 reveals the extent of these issues.

Figure 5: Shelter - survey of overcrowding

The 2011/12 English Housing Survey revealed no significant change in overcrowding rates since 2010/11 for owner occupiers (1%), social renters (7%) or private renters (6%). Rates of under-occupation remained substantially higher in the owner occupied sector (49%) than in both the social rented sector (10%) and private rented sector (16%).

The 2011 Census reveals that the average household size is 2.5 people which is in line with the London average although the number of bedrooms per household is slightly below the London average. 28.5 per cent of households are over-occupied by at least 1 room and 16.3 per cent are over-occupied by at least 1 bedroom. This is a 6.3 percentage point increase in households that are over-occupied by at least 1 room since 2001 (8,603 households).

Of the 15,807 council tenancies we estimate that there are 2412 households (15.26%) who are overcrowded by one or more bedrooms. Of these only 735 are currently on the housing register for re-housing.

Private Rented Sector

At the 2001 Census, there was a higher than average number of households renting from private landlords or letting agencies in Haringey; 20.1% of Haringey households lived in this accommodation compared to 14.3% in London and 8.7% in England and Wales. High house prices, stricter mortgage eligibility criteria and strong demand have since fuelled an increase in the level of private renting in London. The 2011 Census reveals that since 2001 the private rented sector in Haringey has grown by around 70 per cent, replacing social housing as the second most dominant tenure after owner occupation. Haringey’s private rented sector now accounts for 30.3% of our households compared with 23.7% in London.

Demand, particularly for low cost private rented accommodation has increased alongside the notable swell in the number of migrant workers coming to Haringey following expansion of the EU. Between 2002/3 and 2011/12, the Department for Work and Pensions completed just over 102,790 new national insurance registrations in Haringey for overseas nationals (the 6th highest in London). 67% of these migrant workers recorded the Parliamentary Constituency of Tottenham as home and many of these newly forming households are engaged in low paid employment and seek out private rented accommodation at the cheaper end of the market.

There has also been increased demand for low cost accommodation fuelled by the government’s welfare reforms. Low income households will increasingly be forced to migrate from those areas with higher rents in central London to areas (such as Tottenham) where housing costs are lower. Furthermore, the restriction on the amount of housing benefit that can be claimed by single people under the age of 35 has substantially increased the demand for low cost shared housing. These factors combined have created a housing market that is very lucrative for rogue landlords operating at the margins of the law.

Despite the majority of landlords in Haringey being excellent, there is a growing problem with some landlords increasingly converting properties into very small units, exploiting the relatively cheaper housing market in Haringey, and especially Tottenham, to maximise returns through housing benefit.

An increasing number of industrial units are now being used for residential purposes in the form of so called “live work” accommodation. These units due to the nature of their original construction are not designed to be converted to residential without significant sums of money being spent to ensure they meet the necessary standards. Many units are self contained and house up to 15-20 people at any one time.

Poor quality housing and badly managed houses in multiple occupation can have a massive impact on quality of life, they can contribute to ill health and blight communities. The 2009-10 English Housing Survey revealed that private rented dwellings had the highest incidence of non-decency at 41% and are considerably more likely to experience damp. In Haringey, the majority of complaints relating to the condition of private sector rented accommodation come from households in the poorer areas of the borough, namely Tottenham. Not all landlords that fail to meet minimum standards are ‘rogue’; many are just unaware of their legal obligations. According to the Private Landlords Survey 2010, 85% of landlords had not heard of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

Feedback from the community engagement conducted after the riots revealed that whilst there was recognition that housing in Tottenham was of mixed quality (and in many cases good or excellent), more often than not, housing was reported as being ‘poor or very poor’. The concern related to both social and private housing and issues raised include the age of properties, the small size of units (and illegal / poor conversions and overcrowding), poor quality of design and issues with cleanliness.

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Current services in relation to need

In 2009, the homelessness and lettings functions were drawn together to establish a specialist Housing Support and Options Service comprising five teams: Housing Advice, Housing Options, Private Sector Lettings, Vulnerable Adults and Hearthstone (domestic violence service).

The primary purpose of the Housing Support and Options Service is to provide home owners, tenants and people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with high quality advice and assistance in order to prevent homelessness, tackle domestic violence, improve housing conditions, enable access to affordable home ownership and the private rented sector, and support planned move-on from hospital, residential care and supported housing.

  • The Housing Advice Team provides comprehensive advice on all aspects of housing (Including landlord and tenant law, harassment and unlawful eviction, disrepair, rent and mortgage arrears, the housing implications of domestic violence and/or relationship breakdown, defending possession proceedings and the assessment of welfare benefits and tax credits) in order to improve housing conditions, sustain tenancies and prevent homelessness.
  • The Housing Options Team provides expert advice on the full range of options (including affordable home ownership, private rented accommodation, the sanctuary scheme, mutual exchanges, sheltered housing, moving from under occupied social housing, and moving out of Haringey), together with the eligibility criteria, in order to enable service users to make informed decisions on which options will best meet their housing and support needs.
  • The Private Sector Lettings Team works proactively with private landlords to make it easier for people who are living in temporary accommodation or about to become homeless to find and keep good quality, affordable, well managed private rented accommodation.
  • The Vulnerable Adults Team plays a pivotal role in assessing and meeting the housing and support needs of vulnerable adults who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, in order to prevent them becoming homeless, empower them to become more independent and to sustain their accommodation, and support their planned move-on from hospital, residential care and supported housing.
  • Housing related support is support that helps vulnerable citizens improve their quality of life and wellbeing by enabling them to live as independently as possible in their community. This support can be provided in fixed locations (accommodation based such as hostels) or wherever the service user may live in the borough, regardless of tenure (floating support). Support can be short or longer term depending on need and what type of accommodation people live in. Housing related support is provided to prevent people from requiring a more intensive or institutional form of care or support. It is also provided as a means of addressing an emergency situation (e.g. domestic violence refuge and homeless hostel).

Supported Housing for Older People:

Sheltered Housing

Sheltered Housing schemes are normally for people over retirement age although people in their 50’s and early 60’s who have support needs can apply. The aim is to help people lead an active and independent life for as long as possible.

Community Good Neighbour Scheme

Tenants living in Community Good Neighbour schemes tend to be somewhat younger and more active than people in sheltered schemes so vacancies tend to be less frequent. A Community Scheme Officer will make regular visits to the schemes, keep an eye on tenants’ well-being and offer advice with day-to-day problems.

Each flat or bungalow has an alarm system which is connected to the Community Scheme Officer’s office and to the Communication Centre. Emergency help is available around the clock, just as in sheltered housing. Some Community Good Neighbour schemes have a few communal facilities.

There are currently 1,362 units of accommodation for older people owned by Haringey Council(figure 6) and 672 units of accommodation for older people owned and run by housing associations (HAs); the vast majority of which fit the Community Good Neighbour model of supported housing.

Figure 6: Housing for older people in Haringey

Extra care housing

Extra care housing provides well designed homes that are suitable for increasing frailty and illness in older age. This type of housing is designed to support independent living, allowing care to be delivered to people in their own homes without necessarily having to go into residential or nursing care. Care services can be offered 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

The communal facilities in extra care housing usually exceed those found in conventional or in enhanced sheltered housing scheme and are focused on maintaining independence rather than just being seen as recreational. Often they include gyms and wellbeing facilities, IT and educational resources as well being the focus for the promotion of health and communal activities in the local community.

Extra care housing can provide social rented, part ownership or full ownership depending on the model and area the scheme is developed in. The Department of Health has been particularly active in promoting this style of provision, supporting a programme of capital subsidy that has encouraged the spread of extra care housing across England.

In February 2004, the Department of Health awarded Haringey capital funding to upgrade 60 supported housing units owned by Hornsey Housing Trust to extra care standard. This scheme is in the west of the borough and is for rent. There are 2 further extra care schemes; these are in the west of the borough and will have 80 apartments available to rent.

Residential care

Nationally we know that many older people move into long-term residential or nursing care because there are no alternative care options for very frail older people, or older people with mental health needs. We also know that many who live on their own go straight from receiving limited or no care services into long-term residential care as their care needs are not identified at an earlier stage.

Currently in Haringey we have 19 registered care homes, both council and private. Between them they offer 607 places for older people across a broad spectrum of need. This includes learning disability and mental health needs. Only 8 of these homes offer double rooms for couples who wish to stay together.

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Services users and carers opinions

Temporary Accommodation Forum

The forum acts as mechanism for the council to consult on the issues that are important to our TA residents and to shape and improve services through their feedback. The TA forum also provides a hub for information sharing on work and training opportunities as well as advice on improving residents’ health and wellbeing.

Landlord Forum

Haringey Council's Landlord Forum provides an opportunity for landlords to meet on a regular basis with the Council and share ideas about how we can work together to improve services for tenants.

The Council has a consistent approach to engaging with the private rented sector. The landlords Forum meets regularly and has been very successful in disseminating information and obtaining views of private landlords, letting agents and housing suppliers. Attending the forum is voluntary and appeals to landlords who wish to further their knowledge and network with council service providers and other landlords.

Provider Forum

The forum enables Housing Related Support Providers to liaise, share best practice and through consultation with the council, help to shape future Housing Related Services for Haringey’s Residents.

Older people

In 2005 Haringey Council commissioned Ridgeway Associates to undertake an older persons housing and support needs analysis to give a clear understanding and detail of the current and future requirement for housing and support. Although 5 years old the main findings are still relevant even though there has been some changes to the general demographics.

They found that people move into supported housing for a variety of reasons, including;

  • Security – concern about living alone
  • Health
  • Loneliness
  • Trading down from a larger property – not being able to do the housework and garden
  • Family break up
  • Ageing - in need of more support
  • Illness of partner
  • Lack of family nearby or no family
  • To be near family

They also found that people were confused about sheltered housing, residential care and extra care housing.

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Expert opinion and evidence base

Recommendations for consideration by commissioners

  1. Further develop the evidence base for the JSNA, particularly in relation to conditions in the private rented sector.
  2. Help improve conditions in the private rented sector through increased enforcement action and/or the use of licensing.
  3. Refresh the Housing Strategy and the Homelessness Strategy to reflect current housing related issues.
  4. Increase the level of affordable housing including extra care provision for older people with support needs
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Key contacts

Author:

Paul Dowling - Senior Policy Officer

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Footnotes

  • 1 As at September 2013
  • 2 Figures do not add to 100% because of rounding
  • 3 CLG Live tables: 784 – Local Authorities’ actions under homelessness provision
  • 4 Census 2011
  • 5 Auxo, North London Sub-Region- Black and Minority Ethnic Housing Study 2007-2009
  • 6 Source data: Haringey’s Housing Register
  • 7 Shelter, Living in Limbo: Survey of Households Living in temporary accommodation, 2004
  • 8 CLG, Statutory Homelessness in England: The experiences of families and 16/17 year olds, 2008
  • 9 All data from CHAIN outer London borough report 2012/13
  • 10 Projecting Older People Population Information System (POPPI)
  • 11 Chance of a lifetime – the impact of bad housing on children’s lives, Shelter, 2006
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