West Norfolk has more empty homes than any other district in the county.
A total of 1,049 buildings are standing vacant in the area while the demand for affordable homes outstrips supply.
West Norfolk Council has now unveiled its strategy to bring these homes back into use, which includes working with owners and developing a private sector leasing scheme.
The council has already taken some steps towards tackling the problem by reducing the council tax discount.
A report to the Regeneration, Environment and Community Panel meeting tomorrow states: “In July 2013 there were more than 5,000 households on the housing register. At the same time there were 1,026 long-term empty properties in the borough. These properties represent potential housing opportunities.”
The highest concentration of empty homes is found in areas of Lynn and Hunstanton.
The Strategic Housing Market Assessment Update 2013 highlighted that there is an annual shortfall of 1,431 affordable homes in the borough, which exceeds the total being built.
The report also states that demand for affordable homes is outstripping supply and that the welfare reforms are “compounding the problem.”
The report states: “The ability to access accommodation that people can afford is under threat, both from low build rates and low lending rates.”
The council strategy states that homes are left empty due to renovations or owners’ fears of letting the property. Some were also waiting for the market to recover.
The council strategy, which would run until 2016 if approved, advises regular meetings to discuss derelict buildings along with the changes to the council tax system. Discounts for empty homes were reduced earlier this year.
The report to the panel states that the council has received 15 enquiries from empty home owners asking for advice on how to bring their homes back into use.
Freebridge Community Housing Association is also working with the council on this strategy with a variety of projects, including leasing empty homes from property owners.
The association funding from the Homes and Communities Agency to bring 40 homes back into use between 2012 and 2015.
The association has already brought one empty property back into use and is due to start work on another shortly.
The Oaks, in Wisbech Road, is now home to four people after being purchased by the association, which has spent £38,000 on refurbishing it.
Freebridge is also working on the scheme with the Purfleet Trust’s Jog On project to help homeless people off the street.
Director of property Colin Davison said: “It has improved the lives of people who sleeping rough and would not have had the opportunity to find accommodation.
“It is a great shame to have these empty homes when 5,000 people are on the waiting list.”