The housing system in the UK is broken. Who says? Well, the current UK government for one**
Everyone is clear what is wrong with the system and I don’t need to say too much about what everyone knows: there is not enough housing at the lower cost end, prices and rents are too high, insecurity is too great, wages and benefits don’t pay enough to cover rents, some landlords behaviour is appalling, and the quality of rented properties can leave a lot to be desired. There is a general consensus politically about this; its just a matter of emphasis and difference about the response needed.
What can be done to change the housing market? You have to hope that government(s) will act. We will see, but we can’t sit and wait.
Outside of government there is a place for charities and other bodies to lobby and to campaign and take action. Nationally, Shelter and JRF have been doing this for years. On the ground groups like ACORN have shown that action by local people affected by poor landlord practice can make change happen. This is why we have linked to ACORN to help set up a renters union that will be independent of Hope, acting locally to campaign for renter’s rights in our town. It is also why we regularly post on our social media, especially on Twitter, about the problems that exist in the market.
At a direct level, we advise our service users, many of whom who were homeless but are now looking for or are now living in private rented accomodation, on what they can do. We work closely with Community Law to offer specialist advice on these issues on Hope’s premises.
We coach and support people how to work with landlords, how to speak for themselves, and argue sensibly for their rights. We are running a Community Organisers Course at Hope on 12/10 to help give people skills, alongside other work coaching individuals and building confidence to speak up, without anger, to argue assertively for their human rights. The details are on our events pages.
We’d like to work with landlords who want to work with us to offer a better, fairer housing offer, and we are open to co-managing rented properties and advising landlords. This is part of our strategic plan for the next three years, where engagement with housing, alongside homelessness, is a greater part of what Hope does. We are also keen to engage someone to sit on our board, as a trustee, who has senior housing management experience, to help us with this development.
Contact me at Hope to find out more if you are interested in any of these ideas.
* Luke 9:58: ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’