Pretty Vacant: The 500 hi-rise towers that won't solve London's housing crisis You might think that things couldn't get any worse for Londoners in need of housing. Think again. For all that the Covid19 crisis has shown us that if you really want to find accommodation for those sleeping on the streets you can pretty much manage that in a week or so, the news isn't necessarily good. Covid19 has also shown us some other home truths about housing in London. For example, underlining the points we make in our new report 'Pretty Vacant' about the tens of thousands of homes sucked out of residential supply by the short-term let market, of which Airbnb is simply the most visible part. If your street, or block, is anything like mine, then your daily exercise will be giving some pretty forceful hints about quite how large that particular iceberg sinking Londoners hopes for access to affordable housing really is. Empty flats abound. But my horizon like so many others in London still resounds to the beat of the construction piledriver, as tower after tower continue to rise unabated. 'Well,' you might reply 'we are in a housing crisis, you can forgive Government for being so keen to keep London's construction sites open, despite fears that social distancing might be undermined by the occasional need to install a lintel significantly shorter than 2 metres in length...' 'Fair do's', I might reply, 'the trouble is I'm not so sure that what is being built in London is going to help that much'. It might, help a little, but not a lot. And I suppose that is what all the housing indicators have been telling us in recent years. We're building the most social housing in London for decades according to the Mayor Sadiq Khan, yet the waiting lists still keep rising. Across the country housebuilding as a whole was, pre-corona at any rate, also at a recent high. But the odd thing was this: despite a clear Government commitment to increasing access to housing ownership, this has actually dropped. A smaller percentage of England's population are now homeowners despite all those billions spent on Help To Buy - soon to be re-booted as 'First Homes'. In fact housing ownership has dropped faster in London than anywhere else in England, despite a significant proportion of Government investment in housing through the multi-billion pound 'Help to Buy' scheme being in London. And as if that wasn't bad enough homelessness has also increased year after year after year. In fact two-thirds of all families placed in Temporary Accommodation in England are placed there by London Councils who lack the social housing that these 56,950 families and their 80,000 children are entitled to. And THAT Temporary Accommodation isn't cheap either. Nationally it is costing £1.1 billion pounds a year and over £700 million of that bill is racked up by London local authorities. In fact council expenditure on Temporary accommodation has gone up over 50% in the last five years, while numbers of families in Temporary Accommodation have increased by 79% in the last ten years. To try and get your head around how on earth this can all be possible, you really need to have a look at 'Pretty Vacant' - Sian Berry, Green Party London Assembly Member and Mayoral Candidate summed up why pretty well when she recently tweeted that the report was "a genuine must-read for a clear perspective on how we are building the wrong homes in the city that don't match our needs". Oh and those 500 towers I mentioned earlier. Well those are the developments already given planning permission across London which exceed 20 storeys in height. 90% of them are classified as residential but we don't think that very many of those 56,950 homeless London families are going to be moving in.