Council tenants with a spare room should be consulted about voluntarily down-sizing, Northampton’s Labour group has said.
The official opposition at the Guildhall said overcrowding in areas such as Kings Heath was a real problem, causing some families to live in a state of depression.
And much overcrowding goes unrecorded, they say, because, in some cases, families with only one actual bedroom have their living room counted as a ‘bedroom’.
Councillor Terrie Eales (Lab, Kings Heath) said a solution could be to ask council tenants with a spare room if they would vacate their home in favour of a small bungalow, instead of a small flat which they are likely to reject. Councillor Eales said a solution, therefore, might be to build more one-bed bungalows.
She said: “We need more family homes, particularly two and three bedrooms.
“Either that or there needs to be a consultation on people with spare rooms about willingness to down-size.
“From my experience these people wouldn’t move to a one bed flat but would consider a one-bed bungalow.”
Councillor Eales said she had spoken to several families whose living situation is causing them real distress.
One, where a child had trouble sleeping, saw the whole family exhausted and “not functioning well at work or school”. The parents are now seeking medical help for depression.
Another family of five living in a one-bedroom flat, which has serious damp in one room, are all forced to sleep in the living room.
Councillor Eales said: “I am aware that there are other families in equally distressing situations that won’t have spoken to me about it and it is a concern.”
A spokeswoman for Northampton Partnership Homes, which runs council homes in Northampton, said: “Across the country there is a shortage of homes for families, and we recognise that this is an issue in Northampton too.
“We are working with Northampton Borough Council to review the future needs of the town as well as their policies for awarding homes to those most in need today.”