More than 24,000 people are on a waiting list for homes – with just 60 available borough-wide.
But most of those empty properties have already been earmarked for families after they are repaired, according to a spokeswoman for Ascham Homes, which manages them on behalf of Waltham Forest Council.
The housing management body said the 60 empty homes make up just 0.5 per cent of the council’s total housing stock, and attributed their vacancies to ‘natural turnover’.
However, Sanctuary Housing, another housing provider, has already started a project to provide 150 homes – a mix of newly built houses and repaired properties – by 2015.
A spokeswoman could not tell the Guardian how much the project is estimated to cost, but said it has just spent nearly £500,000 on renovating a family home and two flats in the borough.
The council has urged the government to relax laws which are preventing them from building more housing.
Cllr Marie Pye, who is responsible for trying to create new homes in Waltham Forest, said 300 homes could be built quickly if the government removed restrictions aimed at cutting public sector debt.