Why is no progress being made on tackling empty homes in Shropshire?

Every day we hear about the housing crisis. Politicians tell us we must build more housing urgently. Yet they say next to nothing about empty homes. There are more than 600,000 empty homes in England, enough to cut the housing waiting list by half.

Here in Shropshire, there are 4,375 empty homes. That’s more than 3% of the county’s housing stock. If they were brought back into use, they could provide homes for four in five of the households on the waiting list.

More than a third of the empty homes in Shropshire have been vacant for six months or more. It’s shocking that nearly 200 council and social homes are empty.

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Shrewsbury Ark goes outreach to tackle rough sleeping but let’s not forget the hidden homeless

On a recent night, I was contacted on Facebook about a 16-year old sleeping rough on the streets of Shrewsbury. This young woman was vulnerable and needed safeguarding. I advised my Facebook contact to take the youngster to Shrewsbury Ark, a drop in centre for the homeless and vulnerable. Once there, she was re-engaged with the support network from Shropshire Council that had been trying to help her. She is now in a hostel and I hope that she gets the help she needs.

This youngster had dropped through the system. It is very hard to engage with council officials and family, and even with friends, when your life has plummeted into the crisis that is homeless. That’s why the help given by the Shrewsbury Ark is so important.

Now, the Shrewsbury Ark is going to do a lot more to help rough sleepers.

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Eleven new long term empty homes every month – Shropshire Council is failing people who need decent homes

This is an update on my post last week on Shropshire Council’s appalling record on reducing the number of empty homes into use. The stark statistic is that we are getting an extra eleven long term empty homes every month across Shropshire. That’s appalling when people are crying out for decent homes to live in. It is disgraceful that we are building new housing on unpopular sites when there are now 1,615 long term empty homes across Shropshire.

Across the rest of England, the number of empty homes is decreasing. Shropshire is one of the few local authorities bucking the trend by allowing homes to remain empty at a time of growing housing need.

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Shropshire is falling behind on bringing empty homes into use, denying hundreds of people a decent home

Questions will be asked at a Shropshire Council meeting this Thursday to try to find to why this county has such a poor record on bringing empty homes back into use.

If Shropshire Council had kept up with the national trend on reducing empty homes, we would have another 770 homes available in the county right now. If it had just kept up with reducing the number of homes that have been empty for more than six months, then we would have an extra 323 homes in occupation.

Why is this? The main problem in this county has been a lack of investment. Shropshire Council is now investing less than ever and denying itself future income.

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There are too many empty homes in Shropshire. Today we are calling for action

I have written about empty homes in Shropshire before, making the case that we have a worse performance than most other councils. This morning, the Lib Dem group on Shropshire Council is calling for the council’s empty homes policy to be beefed up. We are aiming to make positive and constructive proposals to strengthen Shropshire Council’s Empty Homes Strategy 2014-17.

You can read a quick reminder of the facts at the end of this post.

In procedural terms, we have “called in” the strategy, which was approved by Portfolio Holder Mal Price on 10 November. That means it will be debated at a special meeting of the Enterprise and Growth Scrutiny Committee at 10am this morning. Continue reading “There are too many empty homes in Shropshire. Today we are calling for action”