Dundee councillors have taken action to tackle the worsening housing crisis in the city.
Members have agreed to take £312,000 from an Environmental Improvement Fund, which delivers upgrades to existing homes, to deliver £6m in capital expenditure to “build or purchase new homes.”
Around 7,700 residents are on housing waiting lists and at least 600 people were homeless, councillors were told on Monday evening.
The number of new houses of all types built in Dundee has also fallen substantially below target for the past six years in a row with construction in the social rented sector particularly hard hit.
The housing completion figures are so much lower than expected city development director Robin Presswood said he had to check them twice to ensure there had not been a mistake.
Members on Monday night agreed to back a Labour amendment to a review of rents and other housing charges paper.
Proposing the motion, councillor Kevin Keenan, Labour, said: “What the motion seeks to do is start a house building programme within the city. I would much prefer it to build rather than purchase.
“It stems from the fact we have around 7,700 on our waiting list. There are many people in homes that require another room. We have 600 homeless.
“We need to start making some kind of effort to address the housing issue we have within the city.”
Councillor Margaret Richardson seconded the amendment. She said: “We clearly have to increase our housing stock to meet the needs of the people who are looking for our houses in our city.
“We have all been inundated with requests for housing and there is nothing worse than going back to constituents to say there has been no movement.
“This has been going on since I was elected.”
Only 220 houses were completed in 2020 against a 480 target – with lockdown earlier this year blamed for the slowdown, figures published ahead of the meeting showed.
However, far fewer houses than predicted have been built every year from 2015 onwards. In 2018, only 210 were completed against a target of 610.
The SNP group agreed to support the Labour amendment after group and council leader John Alexander called a short recess to discuss the proposal with his colleagues.
Mr Alexander said: “It is worth remembering where we’ve been over the last couple of years. We have already been spearheading work to identify ways to increase the supply of council housing.”
Councillor Richard McCready, Labour, later questioned next year’s housing target, where officials had predicted construction of all housing would exceed target for the first time – 522 completions against a target of 480.
“The paper tells us the target will be smashed in the coming year.”
He said the figures showed “just how important the decision made” to invest in social housing had been.