Our city is facing a crisis in housing. This is hardly a major piece of news because this housing crisis is well accepted by all across the city and has been with us for many years.
The causes are complex but boil down to a few key issues.
Firstly we are simply a very popular place to live and study with little space to grow. The sea and the South Downs create strong benefits for the city, but we have an acute shortage of places to build the homes required for those who wish to live, learn and grow in the city.
This popularity and shortage of land has caused a second issue around the cost of accommodation. It has caused land prices to rise steeply compared with other local authorities around us and means that property developers can make significant profits from those who have the money to afford higher and higher prices – whether to buy or to rent.
Secondly, as a council we need to be able to build more council properties affordable to those on average and below-average city wages. There are far too many families in temporary accommodation and unable to put down proper roots. As a Labour controlled council over the past four years we have provided 200 new council homes, but we have been hampered providing more by reduced grants and a cap on borrowing.
Luckily in recent months the government has given in to intense public pressure and finally removed the cap on borrowing. This means we can start acting on a larger scale, and so if elected in May Labour is committing to quadruple council house building for the next four years to deliver an extra 800 council homes at truly affordable rents.
This will be on top of the 1,000 homes being planned in our innovative Living Wage joint venture with Hyde Housing. This will be on top of pushing for developers to provide greater numbers of reduced cost units from their own developments. This will also be on top of the council working to provide more temporary and emergency accommodation in-house.
Elections are a time to produce the ideas that solve residents’ problems – now is that time.