Housing – we could do it so much better

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/mar/15/first-time-buyers-priced-out

As someone who experiences housing insecurity (unlike a lot of the people standing for election in this country) I think I probably understand this better than most of them and know how the vast numbers of people in this country who don’t own, or will never own, their own home feel.

With the average house price now running at something like 9 times the average wage, owning a home is a huge millstone around most people’s neck, if they can even afford one in the first place! The only people doing well out of this system are the banks, estate agents and buy-to-let property investors, who snap up repossessed houses for a song.

Owning a home is sold as the ideal, and with construction of social and affordable housing at an all time low actually having any roof over your head if you are on a low wage or not able to work looks likely to become even more of a challenge.

The Green Party wants to see a massive focus on 2 strands – bringing existing housing, and empty homes (including holiday homes which stand empty for most of the year) into use and ensuring they are insulated to the highest standards and have renewable energy products added to them whenever possible, reducing fuel poverty and CO2 emissions together, and new social and truly affordable housing where jobs and transport infrastructure already exists are built, from reclaimed or sustainable materials.

Further building of executive commuter dormitories, often to the minimum permissible insulation and building standard, as is current practice, with 4 or 5 ‘affordable’ homes stuck in a corner of the estates as happens now is gobbling up greenbelt land (land which we will be essential to grow food on in the future), increases commuting, and leads to social breakdown.

Building high quality, long lasting, low carbon, social housing that is powered with renewable energy to minimise fuel poverty, in a place where it is mixed with employment opportunities, near train stations and other community services, and includes grouped housing for older people sounds like a pretty sensible idea to me!

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