Empty housing – a social crime?

This is a bit of a social comment. When I am out doing work for councils and companies, I get to go to some really charming places. Others are not so charming. Others, well, they leave you scratching your head.

This street in Manchester is typical of a number that I see when doing my job. It’s Leven street, M40 9DG, and I spent a good half hour talking to one of the few remaining residents.

Leven street: 8 empty homes, 1 occupied, 3 more empty (Click to zoom)

This used to be a good area, with strong social ties, but, with the rumours of redevelopment and the council pushing drug addicted and anti-social persons into the area, those who could started to leave.

It has in fact been 12 years since the first of these houses were boarded up. The remaining residents have campaigned, written letters, been to meetings, and tried almost every avenue open to them. Sadly, nothing has been done. Due to lack of heating and roof repairs, the remaining residents face damp problems coming through the walls, as well as social isolation and rising crime.

These houses, perfectly nice terraced houses, probably worth at least £40K each even in their current state, have just been abandoned, along with those who still live with them.

This seems to me to be an ideal case for an organisation like Shelter to lobby, and see what can be done towards getting these houses re-opened for lives and life, at a time when so many are in hostels, and affordable housing seems to be out of the reach of so many.

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