Town ‘on the edge of housing crisis’

From left: Stephen Townsend, Geoff Hawkins, chief executive of  Chapter 1, and John Bercow MP at the launch of the Chapter 1 housing project in Buckingham last year
From left: Stephen Townsend, Geoff Hawkins, chief executive of Chapter 1, and John Bercow MP at the launch of the Chapter 1 housing project in Buckingham last year

THE manager of a supported housing charity says Buckingham is “on the edge of a housing crisis”.

Stephen Townsend runs a scheme in the town on behalf of Christian charity Chapter One.

The project was set up in March last year to offer good-quality rented accommodation to people from Buckingham who have fallen through the net of traditional housing provision.

Chapter 1 owns six houses in the town, which were intended to house families on an emergency, short-term basis until they were able to obtain other housing.

Mr Townsend said: “The Chapter 1 project in Buckingham was set up to prevent families being sent out of the town.

“We want them to maintain their own support network of family and friends, without disruption to their children’s schooling. It’s the children who can suffer most, losing friends and having their education disrupted. On original predictions, we expected three homeless families a year. But we have had four come to us since June this year, all genuine, all Buckingham families.”

He said existing Chapter 1 tenants are finding it impossible to move on because, as the Advertiser has previously reported, local families bidding for social housing are having to compete against people across the whole of Aylesbury Vale,

Mr Townsend said: “At least four Buckingham families are close to being made homeless and could end up being housed temporarily in Aylesbury or Oxford. Two of them have been given notice by their landlords, who will be able to charge significantly more rent when they re-let. The other two just cannot afford the increased rent being asked of them.

“Chapter 1 has no available houses because their tenants are not given priority over people from as far away as High Wycombe and so stay in the temporary accommodation longer than hoped for.

“If Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) and the Vale Of Aylesbury Housing Trust would give priority to Buckingham families for the available houses in the town for just one year, we would be able to get through this crisis more effectively and at less cost to the community.”

District councillor for Buckingham South Robin Stuchbury has tabled a motion to council that affordable housing should be offered to local residents first, throughout the AVDC area.

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