Lack of Affordable Homes for Young People
What do young people think of their chances of ever being able to afford to live independently? Find out by reading Luke Fallon's blog post here.
Luke is a final year A-level student at The Warriner School in Bloxham, Oxfordshire and is hoping to study Architecture and Environmental Design at university. His passion for greater equality in the housing market and sustainability in the environment motivated him to conduct a survey of young people between the ages of 16 and 20 to find out what they think of the housing crisis. This is what he discovered...
As a student in my final year at secondary school and hoping to study Architecture and Environmental Design at university, I am increasingly concerned about the injustice of the housing crisis that I see around me, locally and nationally and how that is affecting young people in particular. Many young people are prevented from taking the significant step of living independently due to the lack of affordable homes available and the increasing costs of rents, deposits and mortgages.
I sent a questionnaire to over 40 young people aged between 16-20 to find out how the lack of affordable homes is impacting on young people. Unsurprisingly, 90% responded that it is “extremely important” that affordable housing is widely accessible. After all, access to adequate housing is a fundamental human right, and yet 95% believe that it is either “difficult” or “very difficult” to find affordable housing.
“I think that the housing crisis is going to be a problem as long as we have governments who put capital gain over the basic necessity of shelter.”
Many young people are clearly losing hope for their futures and is it any wonder why? Opportunities for young people have been particularly crushed by the Covid 19 Pandemic. Education has been continuously disrupted for the last year, students are being forced to pay for accommodation they aren’t allowed to live in and there is huge uncertainty around whether we will be able to tackle climate change in time to avert future disasters. The prospects of finding somewhere affordable to live don’t look great for those just starting their careers or studying.
“It’s extremely stressful. I’m at university and to be able to keep up with my rent I have to work extra shifts which has a massive toll on my mental health, in addition it’s keeping me back from studying.”
It’s going to be a monumental task to lift the economy out of depression and cope with the environmental fallout, the last thing new generations need is to be left financially unstable through tuition fees and extortionate levels of rent.
The housing system is blatantly dysfunctional which is shown clearly by massive housing waiting lists, disproportionately high private rents, and homes so expensive that new generations can never hope to buy, not to mention the rising number of evictions and increasing homelessness.
Renting or owning our own home is an impossible dream for many young people with record numbers having no option but to stay living with their parents, due to the lack of affordable homes available. According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, there has been a 46% rise in young adults remaining with or returning home to live with their parents. There is a growing inequality opening up between generations and lots of pressure is put on family relationships when young people cannot afford to be independent.
Young people often feel that they are placing a financial burden on their families and considerable strain can be experienced by low income families with overcrowded households.
There is hope that the “end” of the pandemic could be an opportunity to push through much-needed green investment, funding infrastructure to counteract the economic downturn induced by the lockdown. Now is a better time than ever for the government to finally end the pattern of neglect toward decent social housing, as well as the climate crisis. However, whether they shall willingly do so remains to be seen.
So far many of the great ideas to combat both the climate and the housing crisis have been woefully implemented by the government. Therefore, looking to move towards forms of collective ownership that don’t entirely rely on the government, we should undoubtedly be supporting more local initiatives like community land trusts, where members democratically own the organisation which raises funds to buy land to develop affordable housing in response to the needs of the community.
“Environmentally friendly social housing doesn’t have to be expensive and would attract younger people.”
I sincerely hope that more of these trusts develop over time, and perhaps the independent local responses to the pandemic across the country have opened people’s eyes to what can be achieved when communities organise together in times of crisis.
I think Hook Norton Community Land Trust is a brilliant example of how we can come together to build crucial environmentally sympathetic housing that is carefully tailored through a thoughtful and thorough consultation with the community. I think these projects should inspire us all, instilling some hope about the future of affordable housing for people of all ages.
Quotes and comments from my questionnaire
How do you feel about the shortage of affordable housing for young people?
· “There should be more accessible affordable housing especially for those who don’t have a place to stay and who are just starting out.”
· “Everyone deserves a roof over their head, somewhere to call home, the fact that some people don’t and may never is appalling.”.
· “It’s extremely stressful. I’m at university and to be able to keep up with my rent I have to work extra shifts which has a massive toll on my mental health, in addition it’s keeping me back from studying.”
· “With increasing prices for education and the increasing living cost, having a mortgage on top make buying a house an unlikely ability.”
· “I feel like the rising House prices, but remaining wages will mean that housing will be completely unavailable for young people in time.”
· “Gentrification has made affordable housing almost unavailable in many city and rural areas - it’s awful.”
· “I think that the housing crisis is going to be a problem as long as we have governments who put capital gain over the basic necessity of shelter.”
Do you think that building more affordable, environmentally-friendly social housing is a possible solution to the housing crisis?
· There appears to be a distinct lack of attention given to the importance of affordable housing, especially for students with little to no income.”
· “More environmentally friendly housing is also more efficient and cost effective in the long term. Although large government investment is needed.”
· “More affordable housing is better off for everyone, it creates many opportunities for many people. Being environmentally friendly is a huge added bonus as well.”
· “Because we need to find solutions that will work for future generations as well.”
· “Because it is important for young people to be able to live on their own and be independent.”
· “I feel like the government has enough money to both research and build affordable environmental friendly housing especially since they can afford a motorway costing billions.”
Q1) How important do you think it is for young people to have access to affordable housing?
· 65% Extremely important (26)
· 32.5% Very important (13)
Q2) As a young person, how difficult do you think it is to find affordable housing?
· 69.23% Difficult (27)
· 25.64% Very Difficult (10)