Posted: Fri 8th Mar 2024

Low-Cost Home in Usk to House Homeless Family After Council Buys Property /

A TWO-bedroom low-cost home for sale is to be used to house a homeless family after a council was unable to find a buyer. 
The house is one of 11 built in Usk in 1990 under a ‘build for sale’ scheme known as the ‘Monmouthshire Model’ that was intended to help local people get on the housing ladder. 
It sees the council provide an equity loan, usually 30 per cent of the purchase price but it can be up to 50 per cent, with the purchaser raising the balance through a conventional mortgage and savings. 
There is no interest charged on the loan but when it is repaid it must be the same percentage of its value. 
However the homes can only be sold to people living in Usk and the immediate adjoining communities of Llanbadoc, Gwehelog Fawr and Llantrissant Fawr. 
However Monmouthshire County Counci’s Labour-led cabinet has agreed to buy one of the homes after its current owners who own it on a 70/30 basis gave notice, in December of their intention to sell. 
That gave the council two months to inform the owners of its intention to purchase or otherwise they could sell it on the open market. 
A report to the cabinet said the “preference is for these properties to remain as low-cost home ownership and be sold onto a suitable household in housing need” but the council is able to step in and buy the house if no suitable applicants come forward. 
The property was marketed on the Monmouthshire Homesearch website where people on the housing waiting list in the county can look for homes to rent from housing associations. 
As a result 12 applicants expressed an interest, however, none were able to pass the financial assessment or meet the rural local connection criteria. 
Council leader Mary Ann Brocklesby told the cabinet as a result it was being recommended to buy the house and use it to provide temporary accommodation for a homeless family, for a likely period of between five and 10 years. 
She said: “We can bring this house back into the council’s ownership rather than allow it to be sold on the open market and ensure an affordable home is not lost but kept within the council.” 
The Labour councillor said there are currently 50 households in bed and breakfast accommodation while the report stated in December there were 185 households in temporary accommodation and the council is seeing an increase in the number of families at risk of homelessness and it has a lack of suitable, self-contained accommodation for families. 
It is expected by the end of the financial year, in just over three weeks time, the council will have spent £1.865 million on bed and breakfast accommodation. 
Conservative opposition councillor Paul Pavia asked why local ward councillors weren’t given notification the house was available to sale on the low-cost basis. 
He said: “Tony Kear, the Usk councillor, said many Usk families are looking for low-cost housing opportunities given it’s become a very expensive place to live. He would have been a good conduit to potentially identify families or individuals who may have seen this as an opportunity, but he wasn’t aware of it.” 
Cllr Brocklesby said it was an “oversight” local councillors weren’t informed. She said: “I think lessons need to be learnt going forward. That is something we can learn from and make sure is on the checklist of what to do, that is first on the list reach out to ward councillors.” 
The council has valued the house at £240,000, making the owners’ equity share worth £168,000 which the council will pay. It has also budgeted £27,650 for refurbishment costs for the house that is described as in a “good condition”. 
The cabinet agreed to create a £209,442.92 capital budget to buy and refurbish the house which also includes costs such as land transaction tax.  
PICTURE CAPTION: A general view of Twyn Square, Usk. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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