Frustrations over county’s housing situation

MONTROSE-born reader Lynsey Dakers has become so concerned about the subject of homelessness and housing in Angus that she has started a Facebook page on which members of the public can express their feelings and frustrations on the subject.

In her introduction Lynsey wrote: “The council keep getting praised because nobody speaks out about it so I have given everyone a voice.”

In particular she asks: “Are you aware of any empty houses/flats? Have they been empty for what seems like an unreasonable amount of time?”

After 24 hours there were 60 members on the page.

The Review’s position in this is not making an attack on Angus Council, but rather we are giving a wider platform for those who have something to say on this particular subject.

Matters which we regard as sensitive or confidential have been edited out.

Ms H wrote: “When I had my twin babies the four of us were in a one bedroom flat for the first year of their life and would still have been there if it weren’t for me and twins having to go private. There was no other option, the council said we could be there for up to five years. Couldn’t fit double buggy into the block so I had to leave one baby outside while I took the other one in. No room for high chairs, etc. The bedroom was a fire hazard due to the amount of stuff in it and under cots, we couldn’t put a heater on in the bedroom in the winter due to a cot being against it and were unable to reach baby from other cot properly as one cot in front of the other.”

Ms W said: “I know someone that has a council flat that is on the dole and just don’t live in it.”

Another Angus person wrote: “I’m in a tiny one-bedroomed private flat with mega damp in the bedroom. The environmental health for the council has been out and says it’s near unacceptable for a tenant to be living in the conditions and I’m six months pregnant yet the council has still never offered me a thing and I have been on the waiting list for about eight years.”

And a further comment: “Will anything actually happen about the housing situation? I went to an MP and they did nothing, the council just fobbed them off too. Last year me and my hubby were homeless and went to council and got told it wasn’t their problem and they wouldn’t even give us temp accommodation so we were forced to sleep on hubby’s parents’ sofa for three months. I think people in full time work get nowhere as the council think we can afford to go private. We were in private before going homeless but couldn’t afford to stay there and council told us to get rid of Sky and stop smoking and it will make life more affordable. I still have the letter! What so we work full time just to be able to live and have no luxuries. Bet they wouldn’t live like that.”

It has to be emphasised that in many ways Angus Council has its hands tied by national legislation, and that demand for houses outstrips the supply, not made easier by the number of multi-bedroomed houses occupied by just one person.

However, we do regard it as valuable to let our readers see how the situation is viewed by people who do not have a settled home.

We welcome our readers’ views on the subject.

A council spokeswoman, meanwhile, said the authority “makes every effort” to ensure people are housed as quickly as possible.

She said: “Unfortunately we cannot discuss housing needs through a third party, or via a social networking site, and would urge anyone with housing issues to contact their nearest housing office or call ACCESSLine on 08452 777 778.

“Angus Council allocates houses based on a points system which takes into account housing need. We are sympathetic to tenants who wish to move house, but given the current levels of available affordable housing for rent in Angus, unfortunately some people do have to wait a considerable time for rehousing.

“No one who is unintentionally homeless would be turned away by Angus Council, and indeed the authority has a statutory duty to provide accommodation for those who have become unintentionally homeless. Angus Council has made strenuous and continuing efforts to tackle homelessness in the county, and we have already met our target of prioritising all unintentionally homeless applicants ahead of the Government’s 2012 deadline.”