SUNDERLAND Council has announced it is buying empty properties to provide housing for the vulnerable.
This is part of a £59million five-year housing delivery and investment plan, in which the council aims to bring more than 360 empty properties back into use as family homes, as well as 117 new-build bungalows, and 95 new homes as supported accommodation.
The council became a registered landlord last year.
Councillor Rebecca Atkinson, who holds the council’s ‘Dynamic City’ portfolio, said: “Children deserve a good solid family home that’s safe, secure, and somewhere for them to thrive – not just physically safe, but safe as in a long-term lease.”
The homes will also enable more ageing and disabled people to live independently.
Coun Atkinson said: “We’re using ‘smart’ technology to enable people to live independent lives, such as voice-activated door opening, voice-activated blinds, and Alexa. Their families can be proud they’re living independently and safely.”
The council is urging people who need accommodation to contact the council and join the waiting list.
Others who are aware of empty properties can report it to the council. The council will also use council tax records to target empty homes.
Sunderland resident Mrs Rosina Robson, from Houghton-le-Spring, said empty houses harm the image of the street.
She said: “We’re surrounded by them. They’re boarded up at the front because they’re broken into. They’re just derelict.”
She also believes empty houses encourage anti-social behavior: “We’ve got cameras up, everything. It’s a nightmare.
“It would make everybody a bit happier to see them all lived in.”
Coun Atkinson added that the pandemic highlighted the need for housing across the city.
She said: “Finances are very fragile. There are people I’ve spoken to who have never had financial difficulties, and are now having benefits.
“We need a safety net there because anyone could end up needing help. We’ve also seen a massive increase in domestic violence in homes.”