Revealed: How many council homes are empty in your area
More than 800 social housing properties across the Black Country are empty as hundreds of families struggle to find a new home, new figures show today.
Dudley Council has 387 vacant out of 21,950 homes, while Wolverhampton Homes has 168 vacant out of 22,131.
Sandwell Council has 169 empty out of 27,723 homes and Whg, which owns and manages social housing in Walsall, has 90 out of 21,000 homes vacant.
Across the Black Country, 12,747 properties, including privately-owned homes, are empty, with 4,008 vacant for more than six months.
In Staffordshire, Cannock District Council had 42 empty homes out of a stock of 5,158.
Stafford and Rural Homes, which took over Stafford Borough Council's housing stock, had seven out of around 6,000 and South Staffordshire Housing Association, 14 out of 6,138.
In total there are 1,090 empty homes, including private properties, in Cannock, with 324 vacant for more than six months, according to latest figures from the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC).
In Stafford there are 1,915, with 653 empty for more than six months.
Councils and housing associations defended the figures today, stating the vacant properties were in mostly in the process of being relet.
Alan Lunt, deputy chief executive, said: “The majority of homes that are owned by Dudley Council that are currently empty are either already allocated to prospective tenants, currently being advertised as available, or where we are shortlisting from more than one interested applicant.
“The small remainder – which equates to 0.28 per cent of our housing stock – are generally homes in high need of investment, and we are currently carrying out an options appraisal exercise to determine their future.
“A small number are also used on a temporary basis to house tenants while we carry out works to their home.”
A Sandwell Council spokesman said: "There will never be a situation where there are no empty properties as the number changes from day-to-day as people move in and out."
Charity Hope Into Action: Black Country provides beds for 23 people in seven houses in the Black Country. Its plan is to provide beds in 50 houses in the region in 10 years.
Matt Lambert, from the charity, said councils needed to provide more social housing, while the private sector also needed to be encouraged to help.
He said: “There are jobs going in the area, but people are struggling to find sustainable and affordable accommodation, there is a real shortage in our area.
“We need more social housing and we must work with the private sector to encourage landlords to provide accommodation.”
Ad Hoc Property Management is calling on owners and managers of social housing to use 'property guardians' to keep vacant properties secure.
Managing director Simon Finneran said: "The Guardian solution can help, in part, alleviate local housing issues and create employment and the rejuvenation of local areas.
"Property guardianship and smart vacant property management need to be higher up the agenda to help local Government tackle their budget issues.”