Housing is where the heart is

The issue of housing is not going anywhere.

It’s not going anywhere in the eyes of politicians – it’s been cited as a huge issue by senior figures in the Conservative Party, Liberal Democrats, and Labour in the past week alone.

It’s not going anywhere in the eyes of the public, since being ranked 4th in YouGov’s issues tracker, the key poll that informs politicians’ views of what people think, in the run-up to the election.

And it’s certainly not going anywhere in the eyes of the media – since the election, housing has continued to be a hot topic across the news pages.

Still need proof?

A snapshot of recent headlines focusing on the housing crisis

And just from Friday alone:

A snapshot of headlines focusing on Shelter's 'Clipped Wing' story last week

A few years ago, housing was mostly limited to the business pages of a select few papers and broadcasters. These days, everyone from the Mail to the Mirror is interested. Why? Because housing issues are starting to affect everyone. Parents are worried their kids will never get a home of their own, ‘Generation Rent’ has grown to eleven million people, and a piece of bad luck like an illness can be all it takes to send anyone into a spiral towards homelessness.

At Shelter our ultimate aim is to make sure everyone has a safe, secure and affordable home. On our Shelter stories blog you can read the very human stories of Chris, whose newly-married years were sabotaged by an abusive landlord, of Brenda, who despite being a Lawyer and Lecturer, faced a Revenge Eviction, and of countless other people who have endured a tough battle to keep a roof over their head.

With a Comprehensive Spending Review due at the end of November, a Housing Bill imminent, and announcements on housing policy coming from all parties soon, politicians can look forward to greater scrutiny than ever before on this issue.

The continual stream of media coverage on housing shows it’s an issue that matters and connects with everyone – whether they read the Guardian or the Daily Mail. Now it’s our job to try to make sure that the government deliver on solutions that can actually help the millions of people bearing the brunt of our housing shortage.

To date, we’ve seen piecemeal schemes that help a lucky few – as the Mail reported recently, people earning as much as £100k have been able to benefit from the government’s Help to Buy scheme.  But for anyone grafting on average wages, it looks like their only option will be to stay stuck in private rents, or move back in with Mum and Dad.

The housing crisis isn’t going anywhere, and without a proper plan to reform house-building and invest in genuinely affordable homes it will be just as big an issue by 2020.

We live in volatile times – where a rank outsider can capture a major party leadership in mere months, and when an entire country can shift political allegiance in a similar period.

To underestimate the importance of housing to the centre ground in this country is to tread on very thin ice – and the question facing our politicians is this; will you deliver the affordable homes we need, or face that volatile public, with no answers, in a few short years?