What is the housing emergency?
The housing emergency isn’t about houses – it’s about people. It’s the family struggling to meet next month’s rent, wondering if they’ll ever be able to afford a home of their own. The young family renting a run-down flat, too fearful of eviction to complain. The children living in temporary accommodation, with no space to play or do homework, and forced to change schools every time they move.
The lack of a stable home is affecting people across the country in the following ways:
- Homeownership is slipping out of reach
On average, house prices are now eight times people’s incomes. Coupled with high private rents, that means that no matter how hard they work, it’s becoming more and more difficult for young people to save up and buy a home of their own. If nothing changes, only half of today’s young people are likely to ever buy their own home.
- Housing costs are hugely expensive
With not enough affordable and stable social homes, and housing benefits cut so they don’t cover rents, increasing numbers of people are trapped paying high private rents they cannot afford. Most have no savings at all, and one in five private renters say they cut back on food just to pay the rent.
- More families are stuck renting from private landlords
There are now over 4.5 million households in private rented accommodation, including a quarter of all families with children. Renting can be incredibly unstable, with soaring rents, poor conditions and eviction a constant worry. Without action, this problem will only increase - more and more people will be bringing up families and growing old with no certainty over what their rent will be next year, and with the threat of eviction hanging over their heads.
- Levels of homelessness are rising
The ultimate impact of the housing emergency is the huge numbers of people forced out of their homes altogether. Decades of failed housing policy has meant the number of people who are homeless has now increased to 227,000. Some of these households – many with dependent children – will then wait for years, sometimes in temporary accommodation. And nearly 5,000 people on a given night will have no roof over their head at all, ending up sleeping rough.
Things have to change. Urgent reform is needed. To tackle homelessness and bad housing head on, we must focus on the underlying causes. Ultimately, the housing emergency is caused by a lack of affordable, stable homes, which is why we are campaigning tirelessly for more social housing – only then will we end the housing emergency for good.
Join our campaign for more social housing here
Building for our future: A vision for social housing
Shut out: The barriers low-income households face in private renting
Homelessness in Great Britain - The numbers behind the story
On the streets - An investigation into rough sleeping