In February 2022, The Guardian announced that private rent has risen at the fastest rate for the past five years throughout England. With the cost of living increasing this year, it’s becoming clear that England’s housing crisis is going to get worse. Private renting is becoming less accessible, more people are now being left in vulnerable positions and many don’t have the financial means to find safe and secure accommodation. So what can be done?
One solution for those who are vulnerable and have become or are on the brink of homelessness is social housing, but what really is social housing? Is it the same as council housing or affordable housing?
Social housing is accommodation provided by local authorities and housing associations. The housing association or local authority will then act as a landlord for the social tenant. The primary benefit of social housing is that it provides rented, safe and secure accommodation at a cheaper price than private housing, allowing those who are vulnerable or have been made homeless to have safe homes to live in.
Although social housing is available to those who suffer from homelessness, it’s also used as a preventive measure to stop individuals falling into homelessness in the first place. Young families on low income, people suffering from fuel poverty and individuals who have recently been released from prison are also exposed to falling into vulnerable positions and social housing is an excellent long-term solution for people in those socio-economic positions.
Is social housing the same as affordable housing?
As the name suggests, affordable housing is rented accommodation that’s made more affordable than market prices. It serves a similar purpose to social housing however the major difference is affordable housing is available to a broader audience, with anyone regardless of income is eligible. Where social housing differs is that social housing has a much smaller eligibility for those who can use social housing as it is primarily aimed at those in vulnerable positions who cannot afford the higher rent payments of private renting. Although both are used as cheaper alternatives, affordable housing can still be unaffordable leading many to turn to social housing as the only viable option.
Who provides social housing?
Social housing is provided by both local councils and housing associations to those who need safe accommodation. The development and refurbishment of the accommodation can be completed by property companies like National Housing Group, who focus on purchasing and refurbishing property which can then be used as accommodation solutions for social purposes.
An example of this is Faringdon Lodge, a former closed care home that has been redeveloped by National Housing Group to serve 25 individuals in self-contained units. The accommodation has also been installed with 52 solar panels which feeds energy generated back into the property, and also the National Grid. Energy efficient appliances have also been used in line with NHG’s Green Initiative.
Properties such as Faringdon Lodge are then managed by a charity or housing association who work with local authorities to place tenants.
Do we need more social housing?
With the rise of the cost of living, the housing crisis doesn’t look any closer to easing up. It’s predicted that homelessness will only increase, with The Guardian predicting the number of people homeless in England will increase to more than 66,000 by 2024. Furthermore, it’s estimated that 8,000 more people will be rough sleeping and an additional 9,000 people will be forced into temporary unsuitable accommodation. These predictions are damning and show that the need for social housing is higher than ever before. More accessible and cheaper accommodation is essential to help people stay afloat and prevent individuals from falling into homelessness.