Cost of living crisis: More than 2,000 homes sit empty in the North East areas for three years
Written by Godstime David on 10th May 2023
New data from four regions in the North East has revealed that over two thousand properties have remained vacant over the past three years.
These areas are Gateshead, Sunderland, South Tyneside, and North Tyneside.
A freedom of information investigation by Spark can reveal that from each of the councils, Gateshead had the highest number of vacant homes in 2021, 2022, and 2023. The data shows a fluctuating trend in the number of empty properties in the areas over the past three years.
Director of Housing and Property Services at North Tyneside Council, Peter Mennell said: “Empty homes are essential to a functioning housing market; however, we know that long-term empty properties can raise concerns for our residents which is why we proactively identify and monitor any vacant homes in the borough. As a result, North Tyneside reports the lowest percentage of long-term empty homes in the region and below the national average.
“Our housing teams work closely with landlords and homeowners to combat homelessness and to prevent a home from being empty for long periods and where properties have been empty for a long time, we develop them to get them back onto the market.
“We know that by getting vacant homes occupied we can reduce the risk of anti-social behaviour while addressing the national housing shortage,” he added.
A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: “Currently, less than one percent of the council-owned stock is empty, with most of those properties undergoing repairs so they can be let.
“The council has purchased six empty single persons’ properties within the community to help with housing the homeless and is currently seeking another, following successful bids to the Rough Sleepers Accommodation Programme.
“We are exploring options for grant funding to bring properties back into use.
“The council has previously used measures such as advice, guidance, persuasion, and enforcement to tackle empty homes.”
Ruth Parker, CEO of Emmaus North East, a charity that provides permanent accommodation in South Shields said: “We offer a home for life if that is required but also take pride in successfully moving people into work and their own accommodation. We have recently launched the Community Wellness pilot in conjunction with Community Counselling Cooperative where residents have immediate access to therapy and counselling.
“In the last 18 months, we identified a need for more rooms with an ever-increasing number of homeless people and purchased two properties adjacent to the main community home.
Parker noted the complexity of mental health issues faced by homeless individuals but acknowledged South Tyneside Council’s strong support in combating homelessness.