Housing shortage at crisis point, says charity

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Nearly a million new homes are needed to keep roofs over the heads of the most vulnerable in society by 2021 as the affordable housing shortage reaches “crisis” point, a charity has warned.

Yorkshire has the third-largest shortfall between property demand and supply in England, according to figures from youth homelessness charity 
Centrepoint.

The country will need 934,388 extra properties available at sub-market rent if severe shortfalls are to be met, the charity said.Its research found more than 137,500 properties are needed to meet demand from under-25s alone.

Yorkshire and the Humber has a shortfall of 128,478, just behind the East Midlands at 132,587, while the highest was in London, at 186,333.

The crisis is felt keenly in rural areas, with figures from the National Housing Federation last month showing a dwindling number of under-45s living in the countryside as they are priced out of the property market.

The Centrepoint study was the first to solely examine the number of units needed below market rents including council, housing association or private rented sector units accessible with housing benefit.

Part of the solution has to be building more homes, a report based on its findings said, but better use could also be made of existing stock, it suggested.

The research, carried out by the University of Cambridge on behalf of the charity, also highlighted the growing shortfall in homelessness provision for young people.

Thousands more units of supported accommodation – such as hostels – will be required by 2021 to house young people initially after they become homeless. Around 80,000 under-25s currently face homelessness each year.

Centrepoint chief executive Seyi Obakin said: “This report shows just how difficult it is for young people to find a place to live.

“A combination of benefit changes, a shortage of affordable homes and an increasing anxiety amongst landlords to let to young people on housing benefit has created a crisis situation.”

Building more affordable homes is “vital” but there are other, cheaper ways of tackling the problem, she added.

“Local authorities must look at using powers they already have to tackle empty homes and engage further with the private sector, and nationally, Government has to review its cuts to housing benefit rates, which has left private rented properties out of reach in many areas of the country,” she said.