Over the weekend I was speaking to an someone who had a relative living in Homecroft Court in Bartholomew Street West.
That relative had passed away and the person I was speaking to was telling me of the difficulty they had selling the 1-bed accommodation on the open market. They said that they had tried offering the property to Exeter City Council but was told that this was not possible to take on the flat.
I was told that even though this flat has now been sold, I am informed that there are currently several other units for sale, perhaps as many as 13
I thought ECC was always looking for this sort of property, especially for the over-55 market and tt made me think. Is there no viable scheme – EXtraLet (a social needs Letting Agency using leased stock), Private Sector Leasing (using leased properties to help families who have become homeless), or something else – that can allow ECC to manage this sort of accommodation in these circumstances?
But it seems that the demand for over 55 accommodation from the housing register is low to non-existent at present and it is for that reason that ECC generally do not take such accommodation on as PSL or Extralet accommodation.
The Passivhaus flats in Knights Place was designed and built as over 55 accommodation, yet it has bee a challenge letting these. On this basis, ECC has taken the decision to amend the majority of future Council Own Build to family homes.
It seems almost contradictory with such a perceived housing need that we should turn away any accommodation. The reality however is that demand is focussed on ‘general needs’ housing and the specific demand for over 55 accommodation is minimal.
ECC will shortly be commencing a ‘root and branch’ analysis of housing need (we have generally relied on the housing register to define what is required). We need to map need across a wider tenure base (social and private housing need) to see what initiatives and measures can be put in place to fully utilise all the accommodation across the city.
By way of an illustration of the disparity of need when considering the housing register – of the 672 households in the Band B category of the housing register 37% of these households have not bid on a house in the last 6 months. Band B are the highest housing need (bar a very small number in Band A (emergency), if these households are not bidding it suggests that they are satisfied with their present accommodation or the accommodation coming available does not serve their needs enough to want to move.