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A new report has stated that relocating long distance can be "a valid housing alternative" to years spent on a council waiting list.
The survey, conducted by HomeFinder UK, of 129 applicants investigates the outcomes of homeless households who voluntarily relocated into social housing in different parts of the country.
It examines the relationship between time waited on a council’s waiting list and willingness to move out-of-area. The survey results show that those in need of social housing are willing to broaden their areas of choice if that option is presented to them within the first year of joining a housing list.
And in fact, 77% of respondents got rehoused into permanent social housing within 12 weeks after opting to move out of area.
The paper also highlights the imbalance between supply and demand of social housing but suggests that the links currently available between housing supply and housing need are underused.
The only public national mobility schemes in operation in the UK, apart from Homefinder UK, focus on home swapping. However, home swapping schemes are limited to existing tenants which neglects homeless applicants and those in the private sector fleeing domestic abuse.
Mark Meehan, Chair of Homefinder UK and Chief Housing Officer of Hammersmith & Fulham Council commented that: “Through the responses analysed in this paper, one thing became apparent – the research shows there are many homeless households who are willing to move out of their local area, and I would urge local councils to seriously consider accessing national mobility schemes that work with these groups.
"This paper provides sector-wide evidence that for those who voluntarily move out-of-area for social housing, a positive change can follow.
"The responses suggest a strong positive correlation between mental health and housing stability. For most of the respondents - 74%, finding a new home led to improvements in mental health and general quality of life, even if this meant leaving their local area or moving long distance.
"95% of respondents recognised at least one positive change to their lives after moving. It also shows that resettlement is possible, followed by overall happiness and satisfaction”.