The latest episode of Neighbourhood Watched revealed the allocations crisis facing housing providers
Last night’s episode of Neighbourhood Watched puts a spotlight on the severe shortage of affordable housing across the country.
At the start of the episode, Victoria Price visits City West to bid for a property in a popular area of Salford only to find that she is 27th on the list. The inference here is that 26 people are in more housing need than her, despite the fact that she has a young child and has lived in a caravan with no running water for the last two years.
Thankfully, in Victoria’s case, there is a happy ending as a suitable property becomes available just in time for her and her son to move into before Christmas.
But Victoria’s plight does present a number of questions, not least what does it actually take to get on the social housing ladder?
The sad reality is that this is just one of many cases that highlight just how dire the shortage of homes across Britain is.
Recent statistics support this too - so far in 2012 for the 743 properties my organisation has advertised, 31,406 people have placed a bid for them through our aptly named ‘choice’ based lettings system. That’s forty-two applicants for every vacancy. And as we are all aware, Salford is not unique in this respect.
The picture is similar up and down the country, with more than 1.8 million households on housing waiting lists, and demand outstripping supply everywhere.
It’s great that we were able to help Victoria, but equally it’s disturbing that we have to turn so many people down who have genuine needs.
The housing sector is doing its bit to try to resolve this dilemma. We are building houses for a lot less grant than we used to. In fact, City West is directly funding the completion of at least 300 new homes over the next four years. But unfortunately, our front-line staff will continue to have to face the reality that for every individual like Victoria we are able to assist, we have to send forty-two away unhappy and with their housing needs unresolved.
David Cummins is director of communities and neighbourhoods for City West Housing Trust