ALMOST 2,500 affordable homes need to be built in the North-East every year to ensure that everyone can have a decent place to live, according to a new report.

The study, published today by the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations in England, and Crisis, the national homelessness charity, found just 1,274 affordable homes were built last year in the region.

This means the number built needs to double to reach the 2,418 affordable homes the region needs annually. This category includes social housing, homes set at intermediate affordable rents, and homes for shared ownership.

Unlike most estimates, this innovative new research, conducted by Heriot-Watt University, calculates how many homes are needed to address the existing shortage of houses, as well as the future demands of the growing population.

This dire housing shortage is leaving thousands of people unable to buy their own home or find a stable home in the private rented sector, and is even pushing people into homelessness.

However, simply building the right number of homes each year will not solve the crisis – they need to be the right type of homes.

Affordable homes are badly needed in the North-East because the average wage is below the national average.

However, building new homes will not address the root cause of the housing crisis on its own. Existing homes and neighbourhoods also need investment to build thriving communities. This would help to redress regional inequalities between the North East and the rest of the country, including its low average wage. It could also help to address the 17,000 empty homes in the North East, the highest proportion of any region in England.

The research builds on findings about England’s housing shortage at a national level, which was released by the National Housing Federation and Crisis earlier this year, showing a total backlog of four million homes.

Monica Burns, external affairs manager at the National Housing Federation, said: “This research highlights the key reason behind the housing crisis in the North-East.

“There are far too few affordable homes being built. We must dramatically increase the number of affordable homes if we are serious about solving the housing crisis.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “It’s heartbreaking that in this winter weather hundreds of people across the North-East have to sleep on our streets, stay in tents, live in hostels, and experience other forms of homelessness.

“Many people are stuck in these terrible and often dangerous situations simply because there isn’t enough affordable housing - particularly social housing.

“Christmas is around the corner, and this can be a particularly hard time for homeless people.”