Veterans, rough sleepers and domestic abuse victims at centre of Sunderland housing pledge

Support for armed forces veterans, rough sleepers and victims of domestic violence will be at the centre of housing proposals being put to city leaders.

Thursday, 13th June 2019, 4:31 pm
Updated Friday, 14th June 2019, 12:29 pm
A person sleeping rough in a doorway. Picture by PA

Sunderland City Council chiefs are appealing for cross party support to pass a special motion to address challenges faced by families in the city.

As well as building more affordable and social housing, Labour chiefs are calling for properties sitting empty be made fit to live in.

“Housing is a fundamental need and decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for everybody in this city,” said Coun Rebecca Atkinson, cabinet member for housing and regeneration.

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“The reason is simple, that without stable housing everything else just falls apart.

“Housing is not only a roof, but social housing provides social innovation, employment services, health services, and social inclusion ensuring that the quality of life of its residents is improved.

“We know that the Tory/Lib Dem austerity purge that started in 2010 has created a national homelessness crisis, and we have to urgently address the problem.”

Kevin Johnston, councillor for Copt Hill, said domestic violence victims forced to leave their homes to escape their abusers were particularly vulnerable when it came to housing.

The motion will be presented by the ruling cabinet at next week’s full council meeting.

In March, the council declared a ‘climate emergency’ and the housing proposals build on this with calls to use recycled materials in social housing construction ‘in a bid to move towards a stable and decarbonised economy’.

It also raises the prospect of tighter rules for landlords and HMOs (houses in multiple occupation).

The proposals received a cautious welcome from Sunderland Conservatives.

“There is little to see in this motion that I could not have written myself,” said Coun Michael Dixon, “indeed much of its contents I have been reading in housing papers from some 50 years ago when I began a professional interest in the subject.”

“If the Labour group wish to have a mature discussion about housing in the city, then I will be very receptive – if it is the tired old mantra they trot out on most subjects that all the problems began when they were defeated at the general election of 2010, then we will be no further forward.”