A review of sheltered housing in Flintshire is set to be carried out because of an ‘excessive’ amount of empty properties.
Flintshire Council has more than 2,600 sheltered homes, which account for more than a third of its total housing stock.
A study carried out by its staff has shown that some of the schemes are not proving popular with residents.
In a report a senior officer said there were a significant number of properties it was having difficulty in leasing as a result.
Neal Cockerton, Flintshire Council’s chief officer for housing and assets, said: “In terms of our wider sheltered housing stock, a desk based analysis has been undertaken and has provided an overview of all of our sheltered accommodation.
“The analysis has identified a series of issues where some of the schemes appear to be unpopular and as a consequence, have high turnover and void levels which are considered excessive.
“Key findings of the data to date indicate that the primary reason behind the stock turnover (66 per cent) occurs as a result of the tenant’s death or their transfer to residential care accommodation.
“This does not diminish the fact that there are still some significant issues with specific schemes and property types, which result in longer term voids and hard to let properties.”
The council said sheltered housing is currently available for people aged over 60, while so-called ‘minigroup accommodation’ is open to over 50s.
However, the local authority said the age criteria did not fit in with the housing associations it works with.
As a result, the age criteria for all types of sheltered accommodation will change to over 55s.
Mr Cockerton added: “Currently Flintshire County Council is the only partner of the housing register who have two levels of age criteria for sheltered accommodation, neither of which align with our partner’s criteria.
“All other partners have a criteria of over 55 years and it is proposed that Flintshire County Council properties align the age criteria with our partners.
“This discrepancy currently causes operational complexities when allocating, as well as creating confusion for our customers.”
Leading councillors will be asked to support changing the age criteria at a meeting next week, along with agreeing to the review of sheltered accommodation.
Ahead of the meeting, Cllr Bernie Attridge (Lab), cabinet member for housing has moved to reassure residents that no final decision will be made without consulting them.
He said: “The report looks at the scope of reviewing our sheltered housing schemes and considers the best use of the current housing stock to meet current and future local housing need.
“It sets out analysis that has been done to date but also stipulates that further work is needed before any decisions are made.
“The council wants to reassure residents that nothing will happen to any scheme and no final decisions will be made without working with tenants of any sheltered housing scheme and that this report forms part of the on-going process of consideration.”
The council currently has a number of sheltered housing properties which are empty.
It is encouraging anyone over 55 who has housing issues to contact its housing solutions team on 01352 703777 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).