Hundreds wait for social housing, report reveals

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More than 700 applicants are on the social housing waiting list, Oban, Lorn and Isles (OLI) councillors have been told.

For every property allocated, there are five applicants, revealed a housing report to last week’s OLI area meeting.

Homeless figures have stayed fairly static over the last three years at about 100 people with a small number in Mull and Iona – but they are mainly in the Oban area. The main reasons for being without a roof are family disputes and relationship breakdowns as well as landlords terminating contracts, usually because they want to move back into their own properties.

There has been an encouraging three per cent reduction in homelessness during the pandemic and a slight reduction in people coming for housing advice – possibly because of the current eviction ban is.

It is expected fuel poverty will increase due to people’s incomes dropping during lockdown and the council says it is monitoring that.

Between 2019 and 2020, 32 new affordable homes were provided in OLI’s area and the council brought nine empty properties back into use.

In October 2020, there were 792 registered second homes making up 28 per cent of all such properties across Argyll and Bute.

The report also identified there was still a significant amount of work to be done to make homes more energy efficient and affordable.

Councillor Mary-Jean Devon pointed out 43 per cent of Coll’s population were likely to be at risk of fuel poverty while 66 per cent of them still had no mains water supply. ‘What will Coll be hit with next?’ she asked.

On a positive note, she commented that new homes at Swan Drive, Loch Don, on Mull had boosted pupil numbers at the nearby primary school.

Housing development including social homes is ongoing at Dunbeg.

Councillor Kieron Green said the information in the report was welcomed and highlighted the need the area has for more social housing.

OLI Area Committee chairman Elaine Robertson added her concerns about the number of people on the social housing waiting list.

‘Although 737 people on the waiting list is concerning, it is also positive in that we have people wanting to live in this area and that we have got a lion’s share of house builds and investment which is something to be grateful for.’