MORE than 11,000 households across Northumberland are languishing on waiting lists for desperately needed social housing, a new report has warned.
‘Home Truths: North East 2012’ reveals that Northumberland is facing a “housing timebomb” with simply not enough homes.
Little more than half of the new homes needed are being built each year, pushing the cost of housing out of the reach of thousands of families. Last year 1,000 new households formed in Northumberland but only 590 new homes were built.
The National Housing Federation is urging the Government to hand over disused ‘brownfield’ public land for new home building, and relax strictures on housing associations to let them work “imaginatively and proactively”.
Monica Burns, North East lead manager for the National Housing Federation, said: “The lack of affordable housing is a tragedy for families across Northumberland who are helplessly watching as the cost of renting or buying spirals.
“At the same time we know that various government departments currently own disused land, such as derelict hospitals and disused schools, which could and should be used to build more homes.
“Building new homes and renovating existing ones is the quickest and most effective way to boost a local economy. This would help solve the north east’s housing crisis and create desperately needed jobs.”
Speaking to The Advertiser, Ms Burns also outlined fears that rural homelessness might be even higher than the official figures, given people’s lack of faith in signing up to the housing waiting lists.
The NHA’s autumn statement details how for each new house built 1.5 jobs in construction are provided, and more in associated building trades.
Ms Burns was also keen to point out that new builds would enable communities to house those people who might otherwise have had to move elsewhere, ensuring the futures of local amenities such as schools along the way.
The NHA is also critical of government measures to end the practice whereby landlords can be paid directly out of tenants’ benefits. It is believed that this will make renting whilst on housing benefits – especially for those who are working in lowly paid jobs – much more stressful and difficult.
The NHA’s new campaign, Yes to Homes, encourages more people to speak up in support of new builds.
Residents wishing to show their support can join the campaign at www.yestohomes.co.uk/