DERELICT homes across Sedgemoor are hoped will be brought back into use as council officials say making use of a “wasted resource is a top priority.”
It has already been revealed by Sedgemoor District Council that more than 1,700 homes are sitting empty despite the national housing crisis tightening its grip.
In October 2017, when the most recent count was taken, there were 1,724 empty homes in Sedgemoor.
Of those, 340 are Council Tax exempt as they are uninhabitable, 835 have been empty for up to three months, 165 for up to six months, 279 for up to 23 months and 105 for up to two years.
The council is working with owners of empty properties and with charity Somerset Care and Repair to bring them back into use as affordable accommodation.
“The council’s priority is to work with the owners of those remaining properties to make use of a much wasted resource,” a council spokesman said. “Somerset Care and Repair organise repairs and a management service for owners of empty properties.
“Besides organising the repairs, the agency has also identified through the council, local families in need of accommodation to go into the property.”
The council says properties across the district often become empty because of a death in the family or because property owners do not know what to do with them or have not carried out works due to the cost of refurbishment.
“Empty homes are not only a continued wasted resource, in a time of a shortage of affordable housing, but often an eyesore and attract vandalism and devalue surrounding properties,” the spokesman said. “We have an Empty Homes Strategy, aiming to reduce the numbers of empty properties but regenerate and significantly improve the appearance of the communities.
“This includes partnership working where partners can focus their resources in an efficient manner by removing empty, sometimes decaying properties and replacing these with refurbished homes.”
Figures show SDC has overseen the construction of 5,756 homes in the last decade, including 1,795 affordable homes and the council says they have plans to build more.
SDC said they can help residents who have empty properties through loans and/or grants and can provide property management services through Somerset Care and Repair or Somerset West Lettings.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s a sad fact that homes are sitting empty while so many people and families are living without a roof over their heads but unfortunately the number of people who need a home far outweighs the number of homes available.”
“Empty homes are also often miles away from where people need them and moving there would tear them from their communities and support networks, as well being in places where it might be hard to get a job and start afresh.
“To truly help the hundreds of thousands of homeless people suffering in this country, the government needs to get on with building many more social homes in the places where people need them.”