A REPORT released today by the National Housing Federation (NHF) and Crisis claims 21,100 homes need to be built in the West Midlands every year to solve the region’s housing crisis.
The NHF represents housing associations in England and Crisis is the national homelessness charity.
Around 16,000 homes were built last year in the West Midlands and the NHF says the dire housing shortage is leaving thousands of people unable to buy their own home, find a stable home in the private rented sector or pushing them into homelessness.
Unlike most estimates, this innovative new research – by Heriot-Watt University – calculates how many homes are needed to address the existing shortage of houses and the future demands of the growing population.
But it is not just the right number of homes needed, the report adds, the right type of properties are crucial to solving the crisis.
Of the 21,100 required each year, 8,900 need to be affordable – with 3,100 for social rent, 2,500 for immediate affordable rent and 3,300 shared ownership.
The shortfall of homes in the West Midlands, particularly affordable homes, is having a serious impact.
Shockingly, the report reveals only half of people under 40 in the Midlands can afford to buy a home.
Three in ten under-40s can only afford to live in the region if they live in social housing.
Meanwhile 3,410 homeless families and individuals in the West Midlands are stuck in temporary accommodation, according to the latest government data. More than one in four of these households are living in B&Bs, one of the most precarious forms of temporary accommodation.
The National Housing Federation and Crisis are calling on the government to invest in the homes that the country urgently needs, especially homes for social rent, to ensure that people on the lowest incomes have somewhere secure and stable to live.
The Government must also take steps to make land more affordable. At least half of homes built on public land should be affordable for people on the lowest incomes, and ministers should make land cheaper for organisations that want to build affordable housing.
Monica Burns, the NHF’s head of member relations, said: “This research clearly shows why house prices in the West Midlands have reached their current heights.
“Far too few homes are being built, particularly affordable homes. If we are serious about solving the housing crisis, we have to dramatically increase the number of homes that are being built.
“The Government has already promised more money for affordable housing, but it will take time for this to make an impact.
“In the meantime, ministers should take steps to address the biggest challenge that housing associations and others face: the high cost of land. This is the single biggest barrier to building the 21,000 homes we need in the region every year.
“The lack of affordable housing is one of the most serious issues facing the West Midlands, and we must act now to solve it – doing nothing is no longer an option.”
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, described the situation of thousands of people in the West Midlands having to spend the winter on the streets, in tents or in hostels as ‘heart-breaking’.
“Many people are stuck in these terrible and often dangerous situations simply because there isn’t enough affordable housing, particularly social housing.
“Christmas is around the corner, and this can be a particularly hard time for homeless people.
“While others are celebrating with family and friends, many homeless people face a daily struggle just to stay safe, escape the cold, and feel connected to others.
“This is all the worse when there are proven solutions that can end homelessness for good.
“This is can’t go on – the Government must build housing that people who are homeless or on low incomes can afford and access, because we all deserve a safe place to call home.”