Housing And Homeless Crisis!

Workers on a defend council housing march to London’s City Hall in January fighting against government cuts to housing and mass evictions
Workers on a defend council housing march to London’s City Hall in January fighting against government cuts to housing and mass evictions

THE UK is in breach of its own UN human rights commitment to provide people with adequate homes, Just Fair, a consortium of leading charities, has warned.

The consortium, whose members include Crisis, Oxfam, Amnesty International, Save the Children and Unicef UK, said: ‘England is experiencing a housing crisis. Exceptionally high numbers of people are homeless, or vulnerable to homelessness. The current housing environment is characterised by profound issues of lack of supply, high and further increasing housing costs, lack of security of tenure, and homes of such poor quality that they are unfit for habitation.

‘These issues plague all of England’s main housing tenure types: the owner- occupied, the private rental, and the social housing sector. Housing insecurity affects not only people on low incomes, but broad swathes of the English population, who currently live in situations of insecurity and uncertainty.

‘In this context of crisis, the government is failing to meet its obligations to ensure the right to housing of its population, so that everyone can enjoy a standard of living in homes that are adequate, safe, and secure.’

The report’s author, Dr Jessie Hohmann, law lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, said: ‘It is quite clear we are in breach of our UN obligations.’ She stressed: ‘Without decent housing, you can’t experience an adequate life in society, but now housing is seen just as an asset.’

Meanwhile, housing charity Shelter yesterday warned: ‘In England, more than 80% of properties on the market aren’t affordable for families looking to buy their first home.’

The charity analysed asking prices for hundreds of thousands of properties for sale throughout the country, and compared them with the mortgage that an average family buying their first home could afford.

The research revealed that across the country only 17% of homes for sale are affordable for families that need at least two bedrooms, and only 7% are affordable for larger families looking for homes with three bedrooms or more.

Shelter stressed: ‘Shockingly the study also showed that in 10% of local authorities, there are absolutely no homes for sale that are affordable for families earning a typical wage. These include Chelmsford in the East of England, Watford, Gravesham and Elmbridge in the South East.”

The problem is particularly severe in London. Shelter identified just 43 affordable properties in the entire capital, a number which would be even lower if it didn’t include house boats (selling for up to £165,000) and a mobile home (£125,000).