Havering Council house waiting list swells by 1,900 in a year

The housing waiting list in Havering has swollen by almost 2,000 people in the last year.

The number of people waiting for council-run accommodation has grown to around 10,500 from 8,600 in early 2011.

This figure is almost seven times what the list stood at in 1999, when it was just 1,511.

The scale of the housing shortage has emerged at a time when the council is consulting residents on whether to introduce a number of changes to its housing allocation policy, including prioritising people who have lived in the borough for a year and giving members of the Armed Forces priority.

Educational talks

Reformed drug addict Paul Hannaford, 43, who gives educational talks in schools in the borough – free of charge – has said he may be forced to leave Havering due to the high cost of housing and the long wait for a council house.

Paul, who was removed from the waiting list while in rehab elsewhere in the country in 2009, has been living on friends’ couches since moving back to the borough because he cannot afford to rent privately.

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He said: “I must have saved the council �25,000 a year giving my educational talks in schools in the borough for free, and I’ve never claimed benefits and am willing to pay my rent and council tax.”

But the long wait for a property frustrates him, as he’s categorised by the council as in Band C (the third tier of priority) and he has been told he must wait five to six years for a property.

Cllr Lesley Kelly, cabinet member for housing, said: “While Mr Hannaford has in fact only been on the housing register since December last year, he does make a good point about helping people who give something back to the community.

‘Higher priority’

“Havering Council is currently consulting on a number of changes to the council housing waiting list, including who gets the most priority, how to make the system simpler and how to minimise the waiting time for those in most need.

“One of the proposals is to give people a higher priority if they contribute to their community – for example, by volunteering in the borough.”

Visit www.havering.gov.uk/housingconsultation to read the consultation and complete the questionnaire online or contact Havering Council’s housing needs team on 01708 434130 to receive a printed copy.

The consultation closes on February 10.