Houses empty in Black Country while families need homes

Hundreds of homes are standing empty while thousands of families are stuck on waiting lists, new figures reveal today.

More than 31,000 people are waiting for homes – but over 1,000 are not being used. However, the number of empty properties has more than halved in the last two years – from 2,500 in 2011 – and bosses insist progress is being made.

In Wolverhampton there are 12,116 on the housing register, compared to 13,085 at the same point two years ago. There are 336 empty homes in the city. Of those, 178 are available to let and 158 are not available, due to major works or modernisation.

Director of housing at Wolverhampton Homes, Mark Henderson, said properties were re-let within an average of 25 days.

In Dudley, there are 570 empty properties, with 4,191 on the council waiting list.

Councillor Steve Waltho, cabinet member for housing, said: “These include those being refurbished, being allocated to new tenants and properties immediately available should tenants bid for them.”

Some 4,503 are on the waiting list with Walsall Housing Group, with 186 homes standing vacant.

Sarah Johnson, Tenancy Services Manager at WHG, said: “The number of empty properties we currently have has fallen by more than half compared to this time last year. This reflects our efforts to turn around empty properties as quickly as possible and this continues to be our number one priority. We will continue to look at ways to keep the number of empty homes to a minimum.”

In South Staffordshire, there are 2,331 people on the waiting list, with 69 properties vacant. Of these 32 are currently in maintenance for re-letting or are under offer. The average time for empty homes is 18 days, spokeswoman Lucy Beaumont said.

Sandwell Housing has 7,191 on the waiting list - with 37 empty homes.

Wolverhampton Homes director Mr Henderson added: “We re-let properties in an average of 25 days but do have some that we have to keep empty for longer so that we can carry out improvement works. We find that the number of people on the housing register does change throughout the year.”