In the UK there are thought to be over 930,000 homes which have lain empty and in an effort to ease homelessness government has pledged £50 million to assist local councils to take hold of these properties and refurbish them.
Most of the money will target locations where homes are lying vacant because of failed schemes which were intended to renew the housing market. As well, there is a totally separate programme which will provide an additional £100 million towards putting homes which are privately owned back to use.
Although this is thought to be a step in the right direction, homelessness charities feel much more is needed to end the crisis in housing. According to Empty Homes, a UK charity group, 730,000 of the 930,000 UK homes lying vacant are in England. Unfortunately, there are more than 2 million families waiting for affordable housing of which 1.7 of them are in England alone.
One of the main problems with areas where the empty houses lie is the fact that they are not in areas where housing is most needed. In some areas of the UK, putting those empty houses to use would only serve 1% of the need for housing while other areas have an abundance of empty homes which could be put to use but insufficient call for homes.
Even though there are an abundance of empty homes, legal entanglement will prevent some from being utilised. Some of these properties are in the midst of ownership dispute whilst others have owners who are currently in long term care.
While government is being accused of being too ‘timid’ in their efforts to provide adequate affordable housing, local councils should be able to stretch the funds to make them go farther. In the end, joint efforts should make a dent in the homelessness crisis.