Kent and Medway housing list grows 60% in 10 years

Housing site
Image caption Shelter said 1,730 new affordable homes were built in Kent last year

More than 45,000 people are on housing waiting lists in Kent and Medway, an increase of 60% in 10 years, according to figures from the charity Shelter.

In four local authority areas the number of people waiting for homes has more than doubled since 2001.

For example, in Gravesham the numbers waiting to be rehoused have risen by 150% and in Thanet by 120%.

"We do work very hard to house as many people as we can," said Gravesham councillor Sue Howes.

"We would love to do more but it comes down to limited resources."

She said the council had just under 6,000 occupied properties but about 3,000 people on waiting list.

"We had five new council-owned homes built last year and 56 extra care units and we have passed in planning another estate of 40 to 50 houses.

"But whatever you do, the numbers don't add up."

Shelter spokeswoman Rachel Orr said people on housing lists were waiting for affordable housing such as council homes, housing association accommodation or part-buy part-rent schemes.

"Last year just 1,730 of those were built in Kent," she said.

"But it is not just that we are not building enough affordable homes, we are not building enough homes generally.

"That means house prices are rising and rents are rising so more and more people can't afford to rent or buy on the open market so they too are putting their names on this list."

She said housing associations were building fewer homes because their budgets were cut by 60% in the government's comprehensive spending review last year.

Kent and Medway have more than 19,000 empty homes.

But Kent County Council member Kevin Lynes said the number of properties empty for six months or more was just over 7,000.

The number had dropped from 9,000 since it started its "No Use Empty" scheme in 2005 to bring empty homes back into use.

"We are trying to do everything we can to work with property owners and return these long-term empty properties to use," he said.

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