Families suffering in the Leeds housing crisis are in danger of becoming the ‘forgotten victims’, an expert warned today.
Social housing chief David Orr said if NHS waiting times had spiralled like housing waiting lists there would be a “public outcry”.
Yet the Government was still failing to tackle the housing shortage which has seen homeless numbers rise for the first time in seven years.
Mr Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, said: “Former housing minister John Healey said if you saw hospital waiting lists grow like housing lists have grown there would be a public outcry.
“The Government would find the money.
“Waiting for an operation is a problem, of course, but waiting for a home?
“We’re already seeing a rise in homelessness and people living in unsuitable accommodation or ‘sofa surfing’ from one friend’s home to the next.”
As reported by the YEP, Leeds – and the rest of the UK – is in the grip of the biggest housing crisis for decades.
The economic downturn means new houses are not being built either by the private or public sector. Last year across the Yorkshire and Humber region, only 8,950 new homes were built – the lowest level for 90 years and providing just a third of the homes needed.
That shortage has led to rents rocketing as landlords make the most of ‘supply and demand’.
And, in addition, buyers are struggling to meet the deposits demanded by lenders.
Mr Orr told the YEP the Government needed to act now to help build homes – which would in turn boost the economy.
“The Government will always say it has no money, but there are always choices.
“For instance it set aside £1bn so that local authorities could collect bins every week rather than every fortnight.
“It could have used some of that money to help housebuilding.
“If you get the industry going, you create homes, you create jobs, people spend money. Everyone benefits.”