International
Federation for
Housing and
Planning

Housing : Right or Privilege

Housing from a British perspective

Housing is a right not a privilege. 

But basic, reasonable, affordable housing of whatever tenure is increasingly seen as “the gold standard”.  Well it is in the UK.

Waiting lists for social housing are growing with alarming speed.  And at the same time that successive British Government since the 1980’s have not only allowed but promoted social housing sales to tenants with massively overgenerous financial discounts.  New housing development has stalled.

Two million houses and flats lost to future generations because of these sales.  A crude calculation suggests that a 1% tenant turnover rate would have realised 20,000 affordable, good quality homes each year.

Isn’t it strange that researchers, statistics, sociologists, economists and maybe the odd politician advocate slowing supply as demand increases.

Try as I might I cannot fathom the logic.

Sure new housing costs money.  But financial support targeted to assist with public housing rents is now channelled towards private landlords in many cases offering substandard housing to people desperate for a roof.

And private sector landlords are delighted to plug the gap and increase their bank balance.

Market forces you may say.  How can a country avoid its social obligations by turning a blind eye to overwhelming need and allowing “the market” to fulfil those obligations.

Let us briefly examine the effects of housing shortages and falling quality standards.

Poor people living in poor conditions.  Sick people living in unhealthy environments.

People with special needs struggling with the wrong facilities.  People living under enormous pressure because they simply do not have enough space to study, have privacy and lead a  normal life. 

People with little hope seeing a future with no hope.

What is to be done?  Anyone for a revolution or simply buy back the houses?

 

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