Express & Star

West Midlands Mayor promises to triple number of new social housing homes if reelected

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has promised to triple the number of social housing homes being built in the region if he is reelected.

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Mr Street announced his flagship policy at Black Country based housing association Nehemiah Housing's headquarters in Great Barr on Wednesday.

The move has been made possible by a £400 million cash injection from the Government after it handed over control of its Affordable Homes Programme.

Mr Street pinpointed ongoing regeneration schemes in Brockmoor in Dudley and around Heath Town baths, Wolverhampton, which will get new social housing.

Mr Street told the Express & Star: "Housing is key to the success of the West Midlands, it is linked to so many other issues. This policy is a real third term policy, it is something we have been working towards.

“Everyone knows there is a desperate need for more social housing in the West Midlands, but until now we haven’t had the funding or control to be able to make a difference."

He added: “However, now I am determined to use the landmark deal we signed with the Government to step in, take control and get a grip on the issue."

Currently the annual number of new social housing homes being built in the West Midlands is between 500 and 700 a year and Mr Street hopes to increase the number to 1,700 by 2028.

He added: “When there is not enough quality social housing available to rent, people who need stable and secure housing find themselves stuck on waiting lists for years and often trapped in temporary or unsuitable accommodation.

“The situation in Birmingham is even worse, with the bankrupt council forced to close the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust, which existed to build social housing.

“That’s why we need to step in and use the hundreds of millions of pounds I have negotiated with the Government to partner with housing associations to fill the gap, to start building the social housing we need.

“We are already the only region hitting its housebuilding targets, and we have led the way on making sure enough affordable homes are included in new developments – but this is different. This is the next step.

“This is about building quality social homes for rent for people who want to have a home to call their own, people like key workers, nurses and young families. By partnering with organisations like Nehamiah, we will be building real communities too – that are nurtured by supportive housing associations.”

The Conservative Mayoral candidate launched his plans at Nehemiah Housing Association, which provides quality, affordable housing together with wellbeing services and support to ethnically diverse communities across the West Midlands.

The association has more than 1,250 properties serving the multicultural African, Caribbean, Asian, Irish and European communities in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

Martin Levermore, vice chair of Nehemiah Housing Association, said: “It was a pleasure to host Andy at Nehemiah Housing, to share what we do and to hear about his ambitious plans for social housing in the region.

“It’s incredibly important that we build enough social housing, and the devolution of funding for affordable housing could be a game changer for the region. Housing associations like Nehemiah not only build homes, we build communities, so we look forward to seeing how we can play a role going forward.”