'Council's cabinet agreed to reduce housing waiting list'

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Hackney Council has bought back 25 Right to Buy homes as part of its commitment to tackle the housing crisis. - Credit: Hackney Council

Hackney Council has a long tradition of supporting social housing – and we’re doing everything we can to build new council homes ourselves, improve existing homes and plead with ministers to give us the proper funding we need.

But after 11 years of austerity and an increasingly desperate housing crisis, a chronic shortage of genuinely affordable housing in Hackney is leaving our residents, our staff and the council with invidious decisions about how we prioritise help for those most in need. 

There are 13,400 households on our waiting list, yet only 600 properties become available each year. 

More than 100 people bid for every single home, yet many have little realistic hope of ever being successful despite the huge emotional strain and energy of applying, and the logistical challenges council staff face in trying to manage an overwhelming number of applications.

That’s why this week the council’s cabinet agreed to reduce our housing waiting list – so that we can focus our limited resources on those in greatest need. 

Mayor of Hackney, Cllr Philip Glanville. Picture: Gary Manhine/Hackney Council

Mayor of Hackney, Cllr Philip Glanville says that Hackney Council will be focusing on housing those in greatest need. - Credit: Hackney Council

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And let’s be clear about the kind of conditions we mean when we say that – homeless families, those with significant medical needs, and those who may have a threat to their life. 

Government policy over the last decade means that if you’re not in these urgent situations, shamefully, you’re very unlikely to qualify for a council home, because demand far outstrips supply. I wish it was different. 

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It would be easier to continue to pretend to residents that a council home is available for anyone who wants one. 

But it would be wrong to leave them languishing for years on a waiting list, being dishonest about their chances of getting a home. 

Instead, we’ll invest in a new team to provide more personalised support for those no longer eligible to be on the waiting list, including better links with housing associations and other providers to explore other more realistic options.

Even with these changes, households in urgent need will still wait around seven years to be housed, and homeless families will continue to wait an average of four years. 

This is the stark reality of the government’s failure to tackle our city’s housing crisis, and I will continue to do everything I can to make the case to ministers to invest properly in the new generation of council housing Hackney and London so desperately needs

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