According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the British social policy research and development charity, the shortage in new affordable homes will soon be the equivalent of a city the size of Leeds.
The Foundation says the supply of affordable housing has fallen short of demand by 30,000 every year since 2011 and the total shortfall could reach 335,000 by the end of this parliament, trapping families in insecure housing as a result.
Affordable housing includes social rental properties, provided through councils or housing associations, or homes in shared ownership. Some of these rental properties may be let to tenants at up to 80% of the market rate, but the shortage in number of homes and the inevitable arguments about who has priority leaves far too many people in vulnerable, if not dangerous, positions.
The government is due to release a green paper on social housing in coming months and independent assessments have already suggested that in order to satisfy demand, around 78,000 new affordable homes should have been built in England every year between 2011 and 2031. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s acting head of policy and research, Brian Robson, said their analysis shows there have been only 47,000 additional affordable homes in England so far during that time. The analysis is part of a briefing document the Joseph Rowntree Foundation is presenting to the government on Monday for inclusion in its social housing green paper.
Who does this affect?
TV cameras and point-scoring politicians will always gravitate towards the nearest woman holding a child, but the reality of the lack of affordable homes is that the people who are most at risk and least likely to receive help are low-income adults aged 50 or more living alone. Often with no family to offer support, no children to help them scale waiting lists, these are the people who end up on the streets, homeless, photo opportunities for mealy-mouthed politicians.
Politicians promise heaven tomorrow, but the reality is that the things that affect your life today were caused by decisions made (or not made) 10-15 years ago. What today’s government does will not change our lives this year, but will affect people in a decade, 5 years if we’re lucky.
If you’re a single male aged 50-65 without your own home, maybe without a job or on low income, not a member of the right priority groups, you’re just plumb out of luck.