Woman 'living on sofa bed' after 24 year wait for council house

In a tearful deputation to the housing committee she said she raised her family 'living from a sofa bed'.

Edinburgh woman tells of ‘heartbreaking’ 24 years on council house waiting list Google Maps

An Edinburgh woman has told of her “heartbreaking” 24-year wait for a council house.

Louise Young said her family had been “let down by our council” after more than two decades on the waiting list. 

In a tearful deputation to the housing committee she said she raised her family “living from a sofa bed”.

Ms Young, a member of tenants’ union Living Rent, said it was “infuriating” to find out the council had over 1,200 empty homes across the city, 

It came as councillors agreed a new action plan to tackle homelessness, after they formally declared a housing emergency in November.

This includes reviewing EdIndex, the system used to allocate social housing.

The council said the review would take around a year to complete and would look at the ‘fairness’ of the existing allocations policy, how assessments are undertaken and how easy the process is for people whose first language is not English.

There are currently around 24,000 people waiting for council housing in the capital. However only 2,079 homes were advertised by social landlords between April last year and January 1 2024, with an average of 243 bids received for each property

Ms Young said: “I applied for social housing 24 years ago and I am still waiting. All I ever wanted was enough space for us as a family to live together comfortably. 

“The first time I was awarded silver priority was 10 years ago. That was for overcrowding, we needed two more bedrooms. I had that award for seven years up until I had to ask my eldest son to move out. We just couldn’t carry on as we were, we never had enough space. It wasn’t fair on his younger brother and sister and it wasn’t fair on any of us.

“Because we were no longer classed as overcrowded, I lost silver priority and 40,000 points and my son was awarded his own council flat. 

“Never being afforded a bedroom of my own, I have raised my family living from a sofa bed.”

Now in temporary accommodation with two young children, she said she was notified in November they would have to move again “and every day I wait for a call to tell us where and when we go next”. 

She added: “I feel like we don’t matter, like we don’t count. I feel like we have always been at the bottom of the pile when it comes to getting the help we need; that everybody else deserves a home more than us. 

“To find out the council have hundreds of properties lying empty in the part of Edinburgh that I want to call home is not only infuriating, it’s heartbreaking and as a family we have been let down by our council.”

Housing committee convener Jane Meagher replied: “That was very poignant.

“I think that took some courage to be able to say that in public, and we very much appreciate you coming along to tell us your story.

“If I can take the liberty of speaking on behalf of the whole committee, one of the main reasons that we declared a housing emergency is exactly because of people like yourself who we acknowledge are not being served right.”

SNP councillor Euan Hyslop said: “As part of this committee over the last few months I really recognise the pressures this housing crisis is causing families.

“Your testimony really puts a lot of life into that and really gives lived experience for the figures we’re quite often presented.

“It’s not easy to listen to.”

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