At any time of any year there are people in North Devon, as elsewhere, who need assistance with their housing. We are fortunate to have some excellent housing associations in North Devon and a dedicated and hardworking housing team at North Devon Council.
We do not ever have enough affordable homes in normal times, but this summer, more than any other summer, is proving particularly difficult.
It is easy to blame Covid, blame second homeowners, blame council planners or blame the government. The fact is we need to provide more affordable homes, but over the years, despite having built above the national average number of homes in North Devon, we still do not have enough affordable homes in North Devon. I welcome any community that is looking to starting a Community Land Trust, I would also welcome if our council were to consider building council homes, proper social housing. Housing associations cannot, despite their best efforts, keep up with demand.
Our Housing Team I am sure are doing their very best but the Council leadership may wish to consider what is being done in Cornwall as a temporary measure. https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/council-news/communities-and-housing/cornwall-council-to-provide-hundreds-of-beds-for-people-in-need-of-emergency-accommodation/
North Devon Council, several years ago, wisely invested in buying properties for temporary accommodation but even with this, we are now starting to run out of space. In April 2019 we had 1977 people or households registered on Devon Home Choice (DHC), with 148 of those with high needs in Band B. In April 2021 there were 2351 on the DHC register and worryingly 249 in Band B. You can find out more about DHC Banding here: https://www.devonhomechoice.com/how-it-works
A number of private landlords are moving into their North Devon properties, I do not blame them, it is a lovely place to live and welcome to North Devon! However, add these displaced private renters and an increase in some other landlords switching to a profitable holiday let market, or indeed selling up - demand for private rentals is considerably outstripping supply, particularly in coastal areas.
If you are a landlord in North Devon, I do appreciate that times have not been easy for you and there is money to be made, but we have got to the point that you are not just asking tenants to move to another property, but are making them homeless. We do not have enough temporary accommodation and the council is now, on occasion having to consider looking at places as far away as Bristol for temporary housing options. Please, I urge you to take this into consideration before you make any decision and if you have an empty property please do consider long term let or contacting North Devon Council to offer your assistance.
Please seek support and advice if you are struggling to pay your rent or bills. Moving is expensive and with limited housing options, you may have to temper expectations of what the council can offer. Seeking debt support or budgeting advice may also be the more appropriate course of action than moving. Many people will have to move, and quickly, but if you can be supported to stay where you are, this may in turn help others.
If you need help with housing please go to https://www.northdevon.gov.uk/housing/homeless-or-at-risk/
Advice on debt and other money matters is also available from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/
and the debt charity Step Change: https://www.stepchange.org/
or Christians against Poverty: https://capuk.org/
or The Money and Pensions Service: https://maps.org.uk/
(pic: Meeting recently with Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Givernment)