May 18 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, January 17, 2013
While the number of families waiting for somewhere suitable to live continues to grow, thousands of council homes in Islington lie vacant.
More than 1,600 properties sit dormant, with 553 owned by public bodies – a rate of 35 per cent and the third highest in London.
More than 600 of these are long-term empty, one of them sitting unused for three-and a-half years, while nearly 15 per cent of the population waits to be re-homed.
David Ireland, chief executive of the Empty Homes Agency, says these figures could be the tip of the iceberg. He said: “These figures are shocking, but even they are an under-count because local authorities sub-divide properties and report them in different ways.
“Once they cut gas or water off they often don’t count them as a home any more.
“These are real, empty properties. No one has made them up and if things were managed differently people would be living in them.
“If properties are empty year after year, it’s really not acceptable. I don’t know the reason why the figures in Islington are so high – it might be estate regeneration projects – but if it’s not then it’s a big problem. Something has gone badly wrong.”
He added that big estate redevelopments often get delayed and councils should press the empty homes into temporary service.
Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “Everyone deserves a decent and affordable place to live. At a time when the government’s changes are making it harder and harder for people to find a home they can afford, we are doing everything we can to increase the amount of social housing and to make sure empty properties are brought back into use.”