400,000 bids received for just 2700 council homes in the city

ALMOST 150 people are chasing the average council home in Edinburgh as demand grows to record levels.

More than 400,000 bids have been made for just 2700 council homes in the last year as the city's affordable housing crisis worsens. And the situation is only set to get bleaker as more people face housing problems because of the economic downturn. Increasing numbers of repossessions are said to have fueled the rise – a sitution which is likely to create an even greater strain on the social housing stock next year.

In one case this year, 1003 people joined the running for one two-bedroom Portobello home, which homeless groups say is a sign of how "desperate" the situation is in the city.

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Councillor Paul Edie, the city's housing leader, said: "This figure is a stark representation of the housing crisis that Edinburgh is experiencing. It will rise as home repossessions increase and the recession worsens.

"We are working with registered social landlords and the private rented market to open up more properties but the ultimate solution is building more affordable homes. To do this we need adequate investment and we are working with the Government in the hope of securing this."

The most popular area for social housing was Cramond, although only 14 properties have become available during the year, they have each received an average of 413 bids.

Craigentinny and Stenhouse, two of the areas where the most properties became available, were next most popular with an average of more than 360 bids for each. In total, 401,169 applications for available social housing have been made in the city, a sign that many people are submitting bids for dozens of properties whenever they come on the market in a bid to get a roof over their head. The record for a single property is 1024 bids – set in 2007 for a two-bedroom home in Drumbrae.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: "The need for more homes is never more starkly shown than through the number of people applying for a rented house in Edinburgh. That sometimes 1000 people apply for a single property shows how desperate the shortage is.

"Unless more affordable housing can be made available in Edinburgh, thousands more people will be excluded from any chance of having their own home. As the economic downturn deepens, increasing numbers of people are struggling and more people are turning to us for help and advice."

He added that further action is needed if the Scottish Government is to meet its target of everyone that is homeless having a right to a permanent home by 2012. Andrew Field, deputy chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said: "These figures are another sign that there is a need for extra investment in affordable housing across Scotland and now is the time to do it, with the country entering a recession.

"The construction industry is contracting and this is further evidence that Edinburgh has not escaped the economic difficulties, or the greatly increased demand for affordable housing."