Residents are waiting longer than before for council houses, official figures have revealed.
There are now 17,493 households on the the waiting list in Birmingham, up from 12,308 in 1997.
It means the waiting list has grown by 42 per cent since Labour came to power.
Ironically, it emerged earlier this year that 17,836 homes are standing unused in the city - enough to house everyone on the list.
The Government has announced plans to let local councils take control of privately- owned empty homes, so they can be let out to would-be tenants.
Properties which have been standing empty for six months or longer will come under council control.
The scheme is the brainchild of John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister.
But opposition parties last night claimed more families than before were stuck in bed and breakfast accommodation.
The stock of social housing, owned by councils or housing associations, has been steadily falling, said Liberal Democrat Housing spokeswoman Sarah Teather.
She said local authorities were obliged to sell council houses and flats to tenants - but were barred from spending the money they raised to build new ones.
For every new social house built, five are sold off under the "right to buy" scheme.
Ms Teather said: "These figures reveal the massive scale of the housing crisis in this country.
"With house prices so high that home ownership is just a dream for most people, more and more are turning to councils for help finding a home. But every year there are fewer and fewer affordable homes for the people who need them."
In Sandwell, the waiting list has shot up from 11,499 in 1997 to 19,655 today - an increase of 71 per cent.
In Walsall, it has risen from 5,795 to 12,024, an increase of 107 per cent.
But in Dudley it has fallen by ten per cent, from 6,448 to 5,826.
The biggest increase was in Herefordshire, where the waiting list increased from 2,220 to 7,740, up by 249 per cent. And in Solihull the number of households waiting has shot up from 1,008 to 3,408, up by 238 per cent.
Across England, more than
1.5 million families in England are waiting for a council house, up by 50 per cent since
1997. Homelessness has more than doubled in the same period, from 43,720 families to 101,030. ..SUPL: