Hundreds of ‘truly affordable’ social housing properties will be built in the next five years in Oldham, the town’s leader has promised.
Councillor Arooj Shah says 500 extra homes are on the way as she combats the borough’s housing crisis.
The town hall says it will work with private developers and social housing associations to "unblock the pipeline for new homes".
Cllr Shah said: “We are committing as a council to build 500 new social homes across the borough in the next five years. That’s not houses that call themselves ‘affordable’, but truly affordable social homes for Oldhamers.
“What we want to do is lay down the foundations to unblock the pipeline and make sure our residents’ housing needs are being met – because right now, we’re not meeting those needs.”
The number of people on Oldham’s social housing register is at an all time high, with 7,500 families currently waiting for a home and 11,000 applications yet to be processed.
More than 20,000 social homes were sold or demolished in 2021/22, while house building is at its lowest rate for decades amid a growing population and rising demand.
“There simply aren’t enough homes to go around, ” Coun Shah added.”As a local authority, we have a role to play in solving the problem.”
The announcement was made at an event bringing together council representatives, developers, housing associations and experts.
People who have experienced housing issues spoke, telling of their often ‘traumatic’ experiences.
Yasmin Mughees said: “It’s a start. It’s all they can to do at the moment.
“But it’s not enough really, with the number of people on the waiting list. And that’s only going to grow in the next five years.”
Nadia Masood, spoke about issues in existing social housing properties, including damp, adding: “There’s mould all over the flooring of the house. I thought I was going mad – my carpet was going a different colour.”
Cllr Arooj said she didn’t want to see a ‘race to the bottom’ in living standards. Bosses are planning on rolling out initiatives to improve properties.
In November 2024, they are planning to expand a licensing scheme allowing officers to inspect the condition of properties in key areas and fine landlords for renting sub-standard accommodation.
They are also asking private landlords to sign up to a ‘Good Landlords Charter’ and lobbying for the Renters Reform Bill, which could see Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions scrapped.
Cllr Shah added: “Oldham’s had enough. We’re not going to put up with the difficult situation [the government] keep giving us. We’re coming together to do something about it.
“We’re solving a national crisis with a local solution.”