What keeps you awake at night? For many people the answer is housing. A survey this week found that one in four households are suffering stress or depression because of rising housing costs.
It can seem that things can only get worse. Evictions are increasing as some housing associations are using their powers to evict tenants over rent arrears. In the past tenants have acted together to physically block evictions. It’s a good tradition that could do with being revived.
Meanwhile the waiting lists for social housing are set to soar to ten million by 2010. New Labour sees housing associations as the way to provide that social housing.
But they have to borrow money from the financial markets and the credit crunch means that has dried up. More and more they charge “market rates” for housing.
The number of new houses being built by housing associations and local authorities during the past decade has fallen to its lowest level since 1947.
Many developments built by speculators in the boom time are now lying empty as people cannot afford to buy them.
Councils have the power to take over these empty properties to house those in need. We need that, along with an emergency programme of council house building. If they won’t, families and people in need should revive another fine tradition – squatting.