More than 18,000 homes need to be built in Yorkshire and Humber every year to solve the housing crisis, according to a new report from the National Housing Federation.
The Federation represents housing associations in England, and Crisis, the national homelessness charity.
It says around 12,600 homes were built last year in Yorkshire and Humber, compared to the 18,900 homes the region needs annually. They say this dire housing shortage is leaving thousands of people unable to buy their own home or find a stable home in the private rented sector, and is even pushing people into homelessness.
Unlike most estimates, this innovative new research – conducted by Heriot-Watt University – calculates how many homes are needed to address the existing shortage of houses, as well as the future demands of the growing population.
The Fedeeration says that simply building the right number of homes each year will not solve the crisis – they need to be the right type of homes. For the first time the report has calculated that in Yorkshire and Humber around 5,500 of the new homes, almost 30 percent of the total, must be affordable homes for people on the lowest incomes, including social housing. Just over 1,800 affordable homes were built in Yorkshire & Humber last year.
Of the 5,500 affordable homes needed every year, roughly 1,800 should be for social rent, 2,200 should be for intermediate affordable rent, 1,500 should be for shared ownership.
The shortfall of homes in Yorkshire and Humber, particularly affordable homes, is having a serious impact. Shockingly, the report reveals that just half of people under the age of 40 living in the north of England can afford to buy a home. One in three under-40s can only afford to live in the region if they live in social housing.
Meanwhile 870 homeless families and individuals in Yorkshire & Humber are stuck in temporary accommodation, according to the latest government data. Almost one in five of these households are living in B&Bs, one of the most precarious forms of temporary accommodation.
One of the main reasons for Yorkshire & Humber’s shortage of homes is the high cost of land – a hectare of residential land in the region now costs £1.5 million – in York, the price is now double that, at £3,000,000. This forces developers to build expensive homes to ensure they make a profit.
The National Housing Federation and Crisis are calling on the government to invest in the homes that the country urgently needs, especially homes for social rent, to ensure that people on the lowest incomes have somewhere secure and stable to live.
The Government must also take steps to make land more affordable. At least half of homes built on public land should be affordable for people on the lowest incomes, and ministers should make land cheaper for organisations that want to build affordable housing.
The research builds on findings about England’s housing shortage at a national level, which was released by the National Housing Federation and Crisis earlier this year, showing a total backlog of four million homes.
External affairs manager at the National Housing Federation, Jo Allen, said: “This research clearly shows the main cause of the housing crisis in Yorkshire & Humber. Far too few homes are being built, particularly affordable homes. If we are serious about solving the housing crisis, we have to dramatically increase the number of homes that are being built.
“The Government has already promised more money for affordable housing, but it will take time for this to make an impact. In the meantime, ministers should take steps to address the biggest challenge that housing associations and others face: the high cost of land. This is the single biggest barrier to building the 18,800 homes we need in the region every year.
“The lack of affordable housing is one of the most serious issues facing Yorkshire & Humber, and we must act now to solve it – doing nothing is no longer an option.”
Chief executive of Crisis, Jon Sparkes, said: “It’s heartbreaking that in this winter weather thousands of people across Yorkshire & Humber have to sleep on our streets, stay in tents, live in hostels, and experience other forms of homelessness. Many people are stuck in these terrible and often dangerous situations simply because there isn't enough affordable housing, particularly social housing.
“Christmas is around the corner, and this can be a particularly hard time for homeless people. While others are celebrating with family and friends, many homeless people face a daily struggle just to stay safe, escape the cold, and feel connected to others. This is all the worse when there are proven solutions that can end homelessness for good.
"This is can't go on - the government must build housing that people who are homeless or on low incomes can afford and access, because we all deserve a safe place to call home.”
Mervyn Jones sees first-hand the problems caused by the shortage of homes in Yorkshire. Mervyn runs Yorkshire Housing, a housing association that provides homes for people on low incomes in the region.
He said: “The problem is getting very serious. In Yorkshire, we’re starting to see the sort of problems that people normally associate with London and the South East: long waiting lists, lack of social housing, rising homelessness. Meanwhile, in parts of the region, wages are low but house prices are just rising higher and higher. It’s starting to hit middle earners too – people who would have taken it for granted that they would buy their own home just a few years ago.
“Rough sleeping is on the up, but so too is hidden homelessness, which is so hard to tackle. Meanwhile, the shortage of affordable housing means that people are now having to rent privately. This just doesn’t work for so many people – it’s unstable, especially if you have children, and some of the homes are very poor quality. People prefer longer tenancies with better landlords who charge them a rent they can afford, but there just isn’t enough affordable housing to meet the need we’re seeing.”