16 September 2009

Decent Homes not Fewer Homes

The selling off of Council Housing has resulted in a severe shortfall in the level of social housing available - and the evidence for this is the waiting list in Lewisham. For this reason I was really concerned when I discovered that Lewisham Homes appear to be holding properties vacant, leaving them open to squatters who have been poor neighbours for other residents and resulting in a loss of possible rent. Surely there must be an answer to this. Well we'll find out soon...I have put the following question down for the next full Council.

How many long term voids does Lewisham Homes have and for how long has each of the properties been left vacant? How much rent has been lost? How many of these have been squatted and how much has it cost to remove the squatters? Should Lewisham Homes decide to sell off these properties how many replacement homes would be bought?
I believe that the reason for selling off these homes is to pay for one-off improvements to other homes. When was the last time it was sound financial advice to sell a chunk of your fixed assets to pay for overdue maintenance work?

Of course many of these issues is about perception as it is about actual policy matters. Yet, in simple terms if it appears the policy is to sell off some properties to pay for the refurbishment of others - what are the criteria being used to determine which properties are sold - what impact does that have on the social make-up of our neighbourhoods - what impact on people waiting for Council housing who feel that their hope for secure tenancy allowing them to get on with their lives is drifting away further?

Decent homes should mean just that and not fewer homes.

1 comment:

Tressillian James said...

Dean - I remeber a similar question being asked last year - and the answer coming back as 3 or so in the Brockley area (if i remember correctly). Seemed suspiciously low at the time - and it would be interesting to compare it to this wider question. Please also remeber that Lewisham Homes is not the only provider to sit on properties like this, Regenter B3 also has administration of such properties in the area.