New council-owned housing company
by Marco Cillario Thu 7 April 2016, 1:02 pm
Reading Borough Council is to create its own housing company to let properties at a mix of market rates and discounted rents.
Plans to help people who are struggling in the current housing market were approved at a full council meeting on 22 March. The council has stated that there will be no overall cost to the local authority.
The housing company will buy properties in or around Reading with an aim of acquiring 100 homes in its first year and continuing at the same rate for the following four years, resulting in a total of 500 homes in the first five years.
At a later point, it might also develop new housing for rent and sale. The council has pledged that as many homes as possible will be available at local housing allowance level rent, subsidised by letting the remainder at market rent.
Moreover, the company will provide a supply of housing for homeless people, reducing spending on other initiatives to provide them with accommodation.
In the future, the council may also benefit from growth in the value of the properties.
Richard Davies, Reading's lead councillor for housing, said: "This is a significant new venture for the council to help tackle the housing crisis in our town to go alongside other measures we have already taken.”
He added that demand for affordable housing in the town significantly outstripped supply and private rents are generally well above levels which are affordable for people on low incomes.
He concluded: "This has resulted in the council being forced to increase the use of bed and breakfast accommodation to place homeless households, which is unsuitable for families and expensive for the council.
"The council has looked at various imaginative ways of tackling the situation and I believe the bold move of creating a housing company will play a significant role in delivering homes for families in need, while helping to reduce costs."