A COUNCIL motion, that makes the case for better housing for all, will be presented to Sunderland City Council by Labour next week.
Two city councillors, Councillor Rebecca Atkinson, who is portfolio holder for housing and regeneration and represents Barnes ward, and Councillor Kevin Johnston, for Copt Hill, are calling for cross-party backing of their motion, which aims to address the housing challenges faced by some residents in the city.
The motion, which will be brought before full council on Wednesday, June 19, sets out ambitions to ensure there is more and better sustainable social housing, with additional ownership methods explored to help people onto the property ladder. The motion also aims to ensure that the 2,500 empty properties in Sunderland are brought back into use, and importantly, that there is a strategy in place to support those without a roof over their head, including veterans and children who do not have a permanent home.
Councillor Rebecca Atkinson said: “Housing is a fundamental need and decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for everybody in this city. The reason is simple, that without stable housing everything else just falls apart. Housing is not only a roof, but social housing provides social innovation, employment services, health services, and social inclusion ensuring that the quality of life of its residents is improved.
“We know that the Tory/Lib Dem austerity purge that started in 2010 has created a national homelessness crisis, and we have to urgently address the problem. Housing partners in Sunderland are working hard to ensure that they support people, but we have to work together with a clear imperative to get this absolutely right.”
The motion also sets out plans to improve the support given to victims of domestic violence, who are often in the position of having to leave their home to escape their abuser, often without their possessions or any means to move their life forward.
Kevin Johnston, Labour ward councillor for Copt Hill, who has backed the motion, said: “Domestic violence can leave vulnerable people in the city in the unenviable position of having to leave their home, and sometimes all of their earthly belongings, in order to escape their abuser. We must ensure that these people are not forced back into an unsafe environment for fear of not being able to quickly get a roof over their head.
“Where victims are unable to be quickly housed, they are often forced to return home to the cycle of abuse, with terrible consequences. We cannot allow that to happen and this motion will ensure it doesn’t have to.”
Other issues highlighted in the motion include measures to encourage landlords to deliver high-quality housing for their tenants, as well as joint-working with housing companies to ensure the properties they provide represent the highest quality social housing available, and measures to ensure that the problems associated with empty properties or problematic residents are dealt with quickly and effectively to minimise their impact on the community.
Rebecca added: “Housing is the fabric that underpins our society, and Labour in Sunderland wants to ensure that we galvanise communities, tackle issues quickly, and create a city that everyone can be proud to call home. We look forward to putting forward this motion, and hopefully putting in place the measures it outlines to deliver a better place to live for Sunderland residents.”