Authority advertises for officer to help solve housing crisis
Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter
A council is advertising for an “empty homes officer” as it bids to help solve the housing crisis.
Conwy county council has advertised the £30,451 role nationally on a three-year fixed-term contract.
The new postholder will be tasked with working with “the development teams of local housing associations, private landlords and empty home owners” on bringing empty properties back into use.
According to the authority’s five-year local housing strategy released in 2018, more than 1,600 homes had been empty for six months or more, but it has since said around 1,000 of those are genuinely long term.
More than 1,400 homes are second homes used for holidays, putting the county in the top 20 for second homes in the UK.
At the moment, there are 258 households in temporary accommodation within Conwy and there is an expectation Welsh Government will make homing rough sleepers a permanent requirement for all local authorities in Wales.
Despite a Welsh Government pledge to build 20,000 affordable low-energy homes during the current Senedd, councils across the country will have to find more creative ways of fulfilling targets for housing the homeless and those waiting on housing waiting lists.
The postholder, based in Colwyn Bay’s Coes Pella building, will be given a “toolkit” of “advice and guidance, financial support and enforcement” to get empty properties back into circulation.
One scheme the council is involved in is the regeneration of substandard housing in the Abergele Road area of Colwyn Bay.
The project, the second phase of the improvements, was given the green light in September last year and will see Welsh Government contribute £1,145,340, Conwy county council borrowing £210,000 towards the project, as well as contributing £105,385 from its housing budget and £175,475 in match funding from another pot.
All properties taking advantage of the scheme will have a charge applied to them, meaning if the house is sold within three years any grant money used on refurbishment will have to be repaid.
The council’s cabinet said the scheme could also be expanded to other areas of the county.