Monday, September 23, 2019

Houses are Homes

More than 8 million people, equivalent to the population of London, are living in unsuitable housing in England, according to analysis suggesting the scale of the housing crisis could be far worse than officially estimated.

Research by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh suggests the lives of one in eight people in England are now negatively affected by years of fast-rising prices and missed house-building targets.

The research shows that 3.6 million people are living in overcrowded homes, 2.5 million cannot properly afford where they live, the same number again are living with parents or relatives against their wishes and almost 1.4 million are living in poor or substandard conditions, according to the study commissioned by the National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents social landlords.

It adds up to almost twice the number of people currently considered to be in need of housing on official waiting lists.
“Today’s research reveals the full enormity of the housing crisis,” said Kate Henderson, the chief executive of the NHF. “It is the single biggest domestic issue we face. From Cornwall to Cumbria, millions of people are being pushed into debt and poverty because rent is too expensive, children can’t study because they have no space in their overcrowded homes, and many older or disabled people are struggling to move around their own home because it’s unsuitable.”

The needy include couples forced to cohabit despite a relationship breakdown and “boomerang” adults who return to their parents because they cannot afford to buy or rent or have been made homeless. The NHF said England needed 340,000 new homes a year to tackle the problem, but the last time that had happened was in 1968 during Harold Wilson’s premiership. In the year to March 2019, 169,770 new homes were built in England.

Only one in six new homes being built are affordable homes for rent, despite it being the market sector the majority of analysts believe is in most need of urgent supply.

The ministry said 2,440 council houses had been built between 2010-11 and 2017-18, a drop in the ocean compared to the NHF’s estimate that 90,000 new council homes are needed every year for the next decade to help end the crisis.

The number of empty homes in England increased by almost 11,000 last year. There are now more than 216,000 long-term empty homes in England, equivalent to 72% of the government’s annual new homes target, at a time when more than a million families are on waiting lists for local authority housing, said the report.

Will McMahon, the director of Action on Empty Homes, said: “With homeless numbers at their highest levels in over a decade, it makes no sense to leave hundreds of thousands of homes standing long-term empty.

No comments: