The ‘immense challenges’ caused by the pandemic, compounded by Brexit, have had a massive impact on housing services in York.
It has seen York’s council house waiting list soar by 25% – from around 1,500 in 2019 to 2,000 now. And there’s a backlog of more than 500 new applications waiting to be processed.
There is also huge pressure on temporary bed and breakfast accommodation, a report to City of York Council’s housing safety policy and scrutiny committee tomorrow (Tuesday).
The council is now looking to “temporarily re-open Crombie House prior to demolition and future development as supported accommodation for people with mental health problems,” writes Tracey Carter, director of housing economy and regeneration, in the report.
Council rent arrears have also shot up – from from £975K in March 2020 to £1.25m today.
And there’s a large backlog of repairs and maintenance work of about 6,000 jobs, built up during the first lockdown and summer months of 2020.
Related to this, there’s been an increase in the number of empty properties that can’t be relet until they are repaired – from 72 to 159.
The impacts of Brexit “through labour and goods shortages” mean “the ability of the housing service to maintain the standard of customer service has been compromised”.
Costs are rising, Ms Carter writes: “Contractors are now requesting price uplifts to reflect increased material, labour and prelim costs – 10-12% is typical.”
Some essential projects, such as the re-plumbing of Glen Lodge and Bell Farm pods asbestos removal are stalled due to a lack of resources.
Ms Carter says an action plan is in place to address the problems. This will see emergency repairs identified and prioritised, more contractors hired to repair empty properties, and a recruitment drive to fill department vacancies.