The saying goes ‘home is where the heart is’, however in our current economic and social climate housing seems to be at the very heart of our economic crisis. With high house prices coupled with banks & building societies requiring large deposits, plus concerns over job security, home ownership continues to be well out of reach for millions across the UK. Research by the National Housing Federation showed that the average age of a first time buyer in the UK without parental assistance is now 39.
The lack of affordable housing not only affects people financially but emotionally also. People are being forced to rent for longer periods and are essentially putting their lives on hold. According to Shelter one in five 31 to 44-year olds are now delaying starting a family because of the lack of affordable housing. Young people are living with parents longer and therefore finding it difficult to build relationships, people are unable to move for work or job prospects and millions resort to borrowing on credit cards to help pay for housing costs. Dubbed “Generation Rent” a report published by Shelter showed that 50% of renters believe they will never be able to afford to buy their own home.
It is inevitable therefore that housing providers will see a rise in the number of young renters and, in turn, a shift in housing priorities. With the influx of young people looking to rent at this critical time housing providers need to call upon their years of experience and focus on pushing through quality rental accommodation that meets the needs of this new key audience of young people and low / middle income families.
Despite the growing demand for affordable housing, funding cuts will hit the housing sector hard, as tough decisions need to be made in order to prioritise services. In order to plug the growing shortfall, it has recently been suggested that housing stock could be sold and the proceeds invested in affordable housing. A great solution in theory but, as the National Housing Federation points out, there is currently not the market or mortgage availability to sell these homes.
In the stormy sea that is the escalating housing crisis, young people will be turning to housing associations and local authorities for an anchor of hope.