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Five-year plan for tackling Boston's housing needs approved

By Boston Target  |  Posted: October 02, 2012

The five-year plan was agreed during a meeting at Boston Borough Council

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AN INNOVATIVE five-year strategy for tackling Boston's future housing needs has been approved.

The strategy, which will remain in place until 2017, aims to make better use of accommodation already available, including unused rooms in properties already occupied, and includes a sharing scheme for young and old to support one another.

Adopted by a meeting of Boston Borough Council, it has been developed at a time of unprecedented population change in Boston and sets out plans to help deliver new affordable homes and maintain, adapt and improve existing housing and support vulnerable residents.

The town's housing supply problems were highlighted in the national press this week, with the case of mother-of-10 Linda Kozlovska who has urged Boston Borough Council to find her a bigger home.

Ms Kozlovska told the Daily Mail that her children were currently crammed into her privately rented property.

Andy Fisher, head of housing, property and communities at Boston Borough Council, said: "The purpose of the strategy is to address housing needs in the widest sense and it will require that the council and its partners review many existing policies.

"The plight of a single mother with 10 children struggling in a Boston home not suited to the size of her family was reported in the national media only last week and shows that the level of housing needs faced locally range from the low level to the extreme."

The council's portfolio holder for housing property and community, Cllr Mike Gilbert, told Monday's meeting that market forces driven by short-term profitability had rendered the housing market incapable of delivering new housing at an affordable rate.

He said: "We have to accept the demographics of an ageing population, more single people and fewer married couples will change the demand for housing from the typical two or three-bedroom semi, which is under occupied, to a property the space within which better use is made.

"Rent-a-room schemes offer a way of tackling not only a housing problem and the silting up of hostel accommodation, but loneliness and a declining living standard for those with space to rent."

He added it would be "very easy" to have a housing strategy which simply concentrated on new-build properties, however the new strategy would explore every funding opportunity to help deliver new homes as well as bring empty homes back into use.

Homelessness prevention also remains a priority and the council says it will maintain schemes to help provide private rented housing, interest free loans of up to £750, help for victims of domestic violence to carry on living safely in their homes, free legal representation at repossession hearings and mediation within families.

THE case of Linda Kozlovska, 31, hit the national press with claims that neighbours had been angered by her request for a council property.

Ms Kozlovska arrived in Britain from Latvia with three of her children in 2008 and moved into a privately rented three-bedroom house.

Four years later, however, the single mother says she is unhappy living there – because she has had three more children and four others have moved over from Latvia.

In a statement this week, Boston Borough Council said it was currently involved with the premises and was working with the family and the landlord to address a number of relatively minor disrepair items, at the landlord's expense.

A spokesman for the council said: "The property is not a House in Multiple Occupation; we can confirm that it is in fact home to a single large family."

Miss Kozlovska was reported to have said that she had "no choice but to move" from the house because her children are crammed inside, with some having to sleep on mattresses in the living room.

Mike Gilbert, the councillor in charge of housing at Boston Borough Council, said: "I am sympathetic to her needs and the borough council has done everything possible to assist.

"On the other hand providing accommodation for a mother with 10 children is a fairly big ask in most areas, let alone Boston where that isn't readily available."

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