Surge expected in demand for housing
Hundreds more people are expected to flood on to north Norfolk's 3000-strong housing waiting list as the recession tightens its grip.But the district's main affordable housing provider, the Victory Housing Trust, says it is fighting hard to provide more homes as well as improving its 4,700 current ones as the rise in demand looms.
Hundreds more people are expected to flood on to north Norfolk's 3000-strong housing waiting list as the recession tightens its grip.
But the district's main affordable housing provider, the Victory Housing Trust, says it is fighting hard to provide more homes as well as improving its 4,700 current ones as the rise in demand looms.
Chief executive John Archibald thought another 500 people could join the waiting list in the coming six months as the gloomy economic and credit crunch took its toll on families in private housing.
The trust had provided 200 new homes as it approached its third anniversary, which was well on the way to the 300 it planned in its first five years.
And there was a �30m pot of government grant available for more housing if the sites and permissions could be obtained.
But with only 300 vacancies coming up a year to tackle the 3000-strong list there was a major imbalance between demand and supply when it came to affordable housing in North Norfolk.
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Mr Archibald said: 'I cannot say we are winning the war but we are fighting as hard as we can in the battle.'
The trust was also helping current tenants with advice on benefits and budgeting to help them through difficult times.
Later this month it will move its head office from portable buildings behind the district council headquarters in Cromer to a new block near the Focus DIY store at North Walsham.
The switch on January 26 will see the closure of the old office at North Walsham town hall, but a district office at Fakenham will remain open.
The moves satisfy one action highlighted in a new audit commission report on the trust, which said some of its officers did not comply with disabled access legislation.
The report praises Victory for its progress and potential, efforts in improving the standards of homes, satisfaction levels among residents, and their involvement in planning and monitoring services.
However it also says there are weaknesses such as catering for vulnerable people, including handling aids and adaptations, and gives the trust an overall 'fair' rating of one out of three stars.
Mr Archibald said the audit report was important. It showed they were on track as a relatively new authority and they were pleased it had highlighted the 'promising prospects for improvement.
But what was really important was how satisfied the tenants were - and the document showed that had risen from 60pc to 84pc since the trust took over the housing from the district council.
The trust was spending �8m a year on improving properties with better kitchens, bathrooms, central heating, smoke alarms and security lighting.
The full audit commission report can be seen on the trust's website www.victoryhousing.co.uk