The need

The importance of safe, decent housing.

Worldwide

The world is experiencing a global housing crisis. About 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing and 100 million are homeless. These people are increasingly urban residents, and every week more than a million people are born in, or move to, cities in the developing world. Today, a billion people, 32% of the global urban population, live in urban slums. If no serious action is taken, the United Nations reports that the number of slum dwellers worldwide will increase over the next 30 years to nearly 2 billion.

Poor living conditions lead to poor health, which in turn limits a family’s ability to earn an income.Education and healthcare are not free in many countries, and so a limited income means that these are jeopardised; consequently, a family’s ability to escape poverty is reduced. Poverty housing perpetuates the poverty cycle for generations.

 

Housing Crisis in the UK

The “housing crisis” is essentially a shortage of housing. It was estimated over ten years ago that in order to keep house prices affordable, an additional 260,000 homes a year in the UK were required to be built Since then an average of only 115,000 new homes in the private sector are built annually. As each year passes the situation gets worse and now the Home Builders Federation say 320,000 houses are needed to be built each year in order to make housing
affordable by reducing the annual increase in house prices from 9% to an affordable 1.1%. On average house prices are now almost seven times people’s incomes. It is becoming more and more difficult for first time buyers to get onto the housing ladder.

 

Private Rental Sector

Being forced out of the housing market, people are having to rent. According to LSL Property Services, monthly Private rental rates are currently the highest they have ever been since they began records in January 2008, with 8% of rents being paid late, or not at all (evidencing the high cost people are being forced to pay). Lack of regulation and control means a large proportion of private tenants have serious issues with their landlords and the service they are providing. Betsy Dillner’s article on the website www.Generationrent.org dated 28 February 2014 states “Nearly one third of privately rented homes have major category 1 safety hazards – those dangerous enough to present a severe threat to health or safety of a tenant – even though the council has a legal obligation to correct such hazards.”  On average house prices are now almost seven times people’s incomes. It is becoming more and more difficult for first time buyers to get onto the housing ladder.

 

Poverty Housing in London and the UK

Habitat for Humanity believes in decent, safe and affordable homes globally. The situation in London in terms of poverty housing is severe. According to a report produced in 2006 by Shelter (“Chance of a Lifetime, the impact of bad housing on children’s lives”), more than one million children in England live in bad housing. Since the report was written this number has increased. The findings from the report are disturbing and include statistic after statistic of concerning evidence on children’s health, education and learning abilities as well as long term effects into adulthood physically, emotionally and mentally.

What is “bad housing”?

(Taken from London’s Poverty profile – www.londonspovertyprofile.org.uk)
  •  Homelessness – this refers to families who have been found to be homeless by a local authority and placed in temporary accommodation.
  • Overcrowding – “bedroom standard” measure, for example different sex children aged 10 or over have to share a bedroom, where parents have to share a bedroom with one more children; and where rooms such as kitchens and living rooms are used as bedrooms.
  • Poor conditions or unfitness – where housing is in need of substantial repairs, is structurally unsafe, damp, cold, infested or lacking in modern facilities.
  •  Other factors include “insecurity” and “living in deprived neighbourhoods”.