To buy an average-price house in Herefordshire you would have to be earning £48,856 a year.

Those are the findings of housing charity Shelter, which brands Herefordshire Council as one of the worst providers of affordable housing in England. At the current rate of availability it would take almost eight and half years to house the estimated 5,207 households on the waiting list for affordable housing in the county.

Shelter found that 1,113 new affordable homes would need to be built each year in Herefordshire to keep up with local need. By their own admission, council officials have said that only 531 new homes were built over the last four years. At an average of just 133 a year this is clearly not good enough! But as we revealed in our last issue, almost 2,500  properties are lying unused across the county. What is Herefordshire Council doing to bring these back into use?

Here at Heckler HQ we have a radical solution—albeit short-term: squat the lot! If the council can’t get their act together and continue to waste millions on a new shopping centre no one wants then we’ll have to house ourselves. Despite its bad image, squatting is still legal and it’s not just something for people with dreadlocks and thin dogs on string.

Squatting has a history in England dating back to at least 1649 but more recently, there was a huge squatting movement involving ex-servicemen and their families following World War II. This involved thousands of people occupying sites as diverse as former military bases and luxury apartment blocks in West London.

With this issue we are launching our ‘Heckler Estate Agents’, a listing of longterm empty properties around the county that could be squatted by families desperate for a home. Although squatting is perfectly legal, some methods of gaining entry aren’t and we strongly advice anyone considering this option to seek legal advice first. Get in touch with the Advisory Service for Squatters and get hold of their excellent ‘Squatters Handbook’ for more information.

Armed with knowledge and a genuine need to be housed, squatting may give you the solution to your  problems. Let’s show the council that if they won’t house us, we’ll house ourselves.

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