Action on Empty Homes has been making the news in Metro. We are pleased to see the national daily put rising numbers of wasted empty homes in the context of the wider housing crisis and the plight of those at the sharp end.
The paper spoke to Action on Empty Homes Campaign Manager Chris Bailey about how our housing crisis is intensifying and how overall rates of property not in residential use have been allowed to reach over half a million homes, despite an acute national housing crisis.
The article is a good one looking. As well as being packed with data and background on the wider housing crisis, it explores our argument that we are getting housing priorities wrong and 'building the wrong housing' to meet the most urgent needs.
It also looks at how the dominant development model in the UK is 'building in vacancy' by literally prioritising a proportion of sales to buyers likely to withdraw large numbers from primary residential use - in other words homes that have no residents and which are likely to remain unavailable for purchase or rental.
This means well-rewarded UK developers can help hit Government build targets by building homes, some of which noone lives in, calling into question those targets ability to contribute to meeting our housing needs.
This contributes to the current situation where we see the construction of supposedly 'residential' buildings rising (often literally) to new heights, alongside soaring numbers of homes without residents and increased numbers of homeless families (all despite declining levels of new household formation).
Lets be clear this isn't the whole story, that is also about our national failure to build sufficient social and genuinely affordable housing.
Each year ends with less social homes than its started with, as stock is eroded by sell-offs and tiny numbers of additional social homes are built - only around 6,000 nationally in 2019.
So the answer is not to build less but to build different. We need to prioritise building the social and genuinely affordable homes for which demand is highest, while also taking action to bring empty homes into use; and doing so with a focus on meeting the most urgent local housing needs.
Read the article here