Council buys homes in attempt to shorten housing waiting list

A COUNCIL is buying unsold properties on the housing market as it seeks to find homes for thousands of people on its council house waiting list.

East Riding Council is working with the Homes and Communities Agency, which is joint-funding a 1m scheme to buy empty properties, and plans to have added a further 10 homes to its housing stock by the end of the year.

This is in addition to the 331 new homes it is building to increase its social housing stock at more than 30 locations, mainly in Goole, Bridlington and Beverley.

The measures are aimed at reducing the number of people on the council house waiting list, which currently stands at about 9,500.

Councillor Jane Evison, the council's portfolio holder for cultural services, housing and public protection, said: "We are so pleased to be working with the HCA on another project which will make a real difference to families living in the East Riding.

"This council has already shown its commitment to providing more high quality housing stock for residents throughout the area by working with local contractors and the HCA to build hundreds of homes which will benefit East Riding residents.

"Buying these older properties is another way that we can help people waiting for a home, by putting houses for sale in the area to good use.

"I look forward to seeing these properties refurbished and becoming homes for families in the near future."

The benefit will be felt by one family today – who were facing homelessness but are instead preparing to move into one of the first properties secured through the scheme.

Jayne Bishop and her family will be moving into a three-bedroom home in Denison Road, Pocklington.

She said: "Due to unforeseen circumstances both my children and I faced the possibility of being homeless which caused an enormous amount of upset and pressure within our family home. I was overwhelmed with the care and support the council's housing department gave us.

"We are now looking very much forward to moving into our new home and very pleased that it's within the same community.

"We are extremely grateful to the council for making it possible for us to remain within the same area avoiding any disruption with schools and work.

"It makes me very proud to be part of the East Riding community."

Properties in Beverley, Goole, Holme upon Spalding Moor, Pocklington, and Woodmansey are on the council's shopping list with a view to making them available to families from the spring.

Work is starting on those that have already been bought to make them ready for tenants to move in.

The council's share of the funding will come from ring-fenced sums designed to ensure that affordable housing is widely available.

This is money paid by developers as a part of the planning process where they have built developments within the East Riding without an element of affordable housing.

Lisa Jones, area manager at the HCA, said: "It is fantastic news that we have been able to provide East Riding with 50 per cent of the funds needed to help them meet their ambition, and we are thrilled that the Bishop family have been able to start 2011 by moving into a new home.

"By helping the council buy individual empty houses across the district we can ensure that the different housing needs of all local people are met."

In Hull, work started this week on the first council houses to be built in the city in a generation.

Keepmoat Homes is building 38 "eco-friendly" houses and bungalows.

Of these, 18 will be council houses and 20 will belong to the housing association, Pickering and Ferens Homes. All will be available for rent.