New figures have laid bare the scale of Norfolk's worsening housing crisis, with almost 50 people a week joining waiting lists for new homes in just one town.

The statistics relate to Great Yarmouth and have led senior councillor Trevor Wainwright to warn that the town is "fighting against a massive tide of demand that is virtually impossible to get on top of".

It means there are now 813 outstanding applications for new housing in Yarmouth, with a further 1,096 yet to be assessed and more than 100 households in temporary accommodation.

Eastern Daily Press: A shortage of private rental accommodation and council housing has contributed to the housing emergencyA shortage of private rental accommodation and council housing has contributed to the housing emergency (Image: Newsquest)

Other Norfolk areas have even greater numbers on waiting lists and across the entire county the total is now more than 11,800 - the highest it has ever been, with some people remaining on the lists for years on end.

Experts have blamed a complex mix of factors for the deepening crisis, including skyrocketing rents, the rising cost of living, immigration, the number of second homes in the county and an acute shortage of both private and social housing.

Failure to address the situation has left local authorities with huge bills for temporary accommodation - putting people up in hotels and bed and breakfasts - pushing many councils into financial dire straits.

At the same time, the situation has seen some people housed in emergency accommodation many miles from their families, friends and jobs, with others ending up on the streets because no suitable housing can be found.

Organisations on the frontline fear the problem will continue to escalate significantly without action.

Eastern Daily Press: Daniel Childerhouse, CEO of Future ProjectsDaniel Childerhouse, CEO of Future Projects (Image: Newsquest)

Daniel Childerhouse, CEO of Future Projects, a charity which offers support for housing and homelessness, said: "It is deeply concerning.

"The cost of living crisis is leading to a growing number of relationship breakdowns, increasingly problematic debt, and widespread mental health issues – all of which are placing additional pressure on an already overwhelmed social housing system.

"We are also seeing more people needing support with housing who would ordinarily have scraped by; people with mortgage commitments and so on who, due to rising interest rates, can no long make do and are at risk of default."



Data obtained through a Freedom of Information request has shown there were more than 11,800 people on housing waiting lists in Norfolk at the end of November.

In addition to those in Yarmouth, the figure includes 4,300 people in Norwich, 1,625 in Breckland, 1,021 in Broadland and South Norfolk, 1,469 in West Norfolk, and 2,499 in North Norfolk.

People are waiting anywhere between six months and four years for a home, depending on the property type needed.

When people are in need of emergency accommodation, hundreds have been moved outside the district they live in, with some being moved as far away as Ipswich from Norwich.

Eastern Daily Press: Rental costs have skyrocketed, making many homes unaffordable for peopleRental costs have skyrocketed, making many homes unaffordable for people (Image: Newsquest)

This has cost councils hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Most of the authorities were unable to provide the exact figures but in North Norfolk, it has cost £835,000 to provide temporary accommodation outside the district. Norwich City Council has spent £103,983 this year.

In Yarmouth, the annual cost of providing temporary accommodation has reached £500,000 annually.

The situation is stark nationally, with a record 139,000 children in temporary accommodation - 9,580 in the east of England - according to the latest figures from June.

In the region, there were 19,190 people homeless and living in temporary accommodation provided by councils.



It is a hugely complex issue but several factors have led to the housing emergency.

According to Mr Childerhouse, demand for private rental properties has meant on average 20 to 30 people are applying to rent a property when it comes on the market.

The imbalance between supply and demand has led rent costs to skyrocket, making it unaffordable for many people, particularly those on benefits.

Mr Childerhouse added: "There simply isn’t enough suitable, affordable accommodation, and this is a direct result of government policy over several years.

"What’s needed now is significant and long-term investment from our government in both housebuilding and housing-related support services in our communities."

In recent years, there has been a huge drive to build more homes to cope with the growing population, both private and social housing, but it is too little too late, say critics.

Eastern Daily Press: Michael Gove, minister for levelling up, housing and communitiesMichael Gove, minister for levelling up, housing and communities (Image: PA)

Michael Gove, levelling up secretary, admitted that successive governments have failed to build enough homes over the past decade, meaning the UK was suffering from an acute shortage.

Pollution laws to protect rivers from being harmed by house building have also stalled the rate of new properties being built, with hundreds of homes in the county stuck in limbo.

Some critics have also blamed record-high levels of migration as further adding to the issue, creating additional demand when there is already a severe shortage in housing.

The impact of large numbers of second homes in Norfolk is also much debated.

Eastern Daily Press: A huge number of new homes need to be built to meet the demand in NorfolkA huge number of new homes need to be built to meet the demand in Norfolk (Image: Newsquest)



The long-term solution is to build more affordable homes and social housing.

But councils are also in need of a short-term fix.

Great Yarmouth Council hopes a new £2m 'social letting scheme' will go some way to tackle the problem and will boost the number of affordable rental properties in the district.

Eastern Daily Press: Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough CouncilCarl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council (Image: Newsquest)

The project will create a council-owned company to offer affordable, quality private rented accommodation to households at risk of homelessness.

It hopes to work with private landlords to lease homes to those in need while also reducing the amount the council spends on hotels and bed and breakfasts as temporary accommodation. 

The demand for temporary accommodation and the lack of social housing is also pushing many councils into financial deficit.

This has prompted leaders to unite in lobbying the government for more funding to tackle the issue, calling the current situation "unsustainable".