“Without a home, you’re a snail without a shell”
These are the words of Lou, a 44-year-old mother of two who has had to move six times in four years.
This week is both mental health awareness week and the first week of our new government. When I hear David Cameron saying that he will build a ‘brighter, more secure future’ for our country, I think of Lou.
For a secure future, Britain needs secure homes.
When I met Lou last month, she told me about how the constant instability of high rents and short-term lets was taking its toll on her wellbeing. She’s not the only one. Our housing crisis is characterised by instability: short term rental contracts, a disappearing housing safety net and many people never knowing whether they’ll be able to comfortably afford a place to call home in their lifetime. No wonder housing affects our mental health.
When I say we need secure homes, I mean we need to build more genuinely affordable homes; provide safe and long-term tenancies for those of us renting, and ensure that there’s a housing safety net that helps people back on their feet if things go wrong for them.
Because things do go wrong.
Relationships break down, people lose their jobs and sudden or chronic illness stops people from working. Homelessness can start anywhere, to any of us. Life is unstable, but having a secure place to call home makes all the difference in managing any challenges that come our way.
Over the past five months, thousands of us have successfully lobbied all the political parties to fix the housing crisis. Shelter is a powerful community of people, and we know that politicians do listen to our calls for change.
Over the next five years, we’ll continue to keep the pressure on the new government to:
- Build the affordable homes we so desperately need
- Make renting more secure
- Protect the housing safety net
Home is so much more than just four walls and a roof. It’s the most basic part of human wellbeing: somewhere safe to rest, to raise a family, to put down roots. It’s a foundation that we build the rest of our lives on and it is closely linked with our mental health.
Shelter and our supporters have made fixing the housing crisis a key public issue. In the heat of the election, all major parties pledged to build hundreds of thousands of homes. Shelter will continue to campaign on this issue until the government delivers the affordable homes Britain needs.
We’ll be in touch with how you can help us make sure the future of housing really is secure, and that the housing crisis becomes a thing of the past.