Richmond families are living hand-to-mouth with many on the housing waiting list “tragically” never offered a home at all, a councillor has revealed. 

Lib Dem councillor Jo Humphreys said there is a chronic shortage of affordable housing in Richmond – where homes in the past year sold for £1.03 million on average, according to Rightmove.

Richmond Council debated setting up its own housing company at a meeting on Thursday (November 8). 

Green councillor Richard Bennett asked if the authority should “become a registered provider for social housing, either building or acquiring its own properties, to ensure our provision is fit to meet the needs of the borough and its residents more closely”.

Green councillor Andrée Frieze added that the authority is “giving away control” of council homes as the “only council left in London that does not build, create, provide its own council housing”. 

There were 5,174 residents on the council’s waiting list for a home at the end of March 2022, but Lib Dem councillor Humphreys said only about 400 homes become available on average every year. 

She said the “chronic shortage of affordable housing is a crisis that urgently needs addressing”.

Councillor Humphreys said: “Our residents are finding themselves forced to live in unacceptably overcrowded conditions, waiting years for the right size property to become available, with many never receiving an offer at all.

"In the majority of cases it is simply a case of waiting until children have grown up and moved out, although with the spiralling costs of rents and house prices, young people finding their own homes is no longer an option for many.

“Tragically far too many residents will never be offered social housing at all and with a shortage of accommodation in the private rental sector, unaffordable rents with housing benefit levels that do not match them, ‘no fault’ section 21 eviction, and long-term rental agreements few and far between, this leaves residents living a hand-to-mouth, insecure life with no opportunity to truly put roots down and feel totally settled in the community in which they live.

“Homelessness is on the rise and with the shortage of temporary and emergency accommodation in the borough, residents are finding themselves placed miles away from their jobs, their children’s schools and their support networks.”

Lib Dem councillor Jim Millard, lead member for housing, said the authority is doing everything it can to “increase that vital stream of genuinely affordable housing” in Richmond – with a pipeline of more than 1,000 affordable homes to be built over the next 10 years.

He said: “We are looking at innovation and that’s why I’ve asked officers to look at all possible future needs and permutations, including the possibility of becoming a registered provider to ensure we continue to make the best use of land, resources and opportunities.”