Housing… need I say more?

21st November 2013 by

Housing.  These days, it feels like a word steeped in controversy.  And yet according to Article 25 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of one’s self  including housing.

There’s been a sharp increase in rents along with associated utility bills.  At the moment reports show that together theyphotoswallow a third of incomes‘.  And ‘for everything that’s wrong with London’s housing and built environment, look to the Heygate Estate, and to what will replace it‘.  And what is with the obsession with home ownership?  Across other European countries (most notably Switzerland, Germany and Denmark) it’s rather the norm to rent as opposed to ‘wasting your money’.  I know it’s probably a very complicated matter especially when it involves the economic market and policies on tenant/landlord rights.  But I’m still not convinced house ownership is the answer.  In truth, I believe it’s damaging.

 

And ultimately if housing is a basic right, then can we afford to house the poor in the future?

Are there alternatives out there?  Yes, but one must be creative and it’s a complicated matter.  Here are some examples of what we’ve found so far:

  • An innovative Scottish approach provides affordable housing that is resistant to soaring rural house prices
  • The essential importance to town planning
  • Housing Co-operatives – there are many out there and many more being created every week.  Hundreds of thousands of resources can be found online. 2012 was the International Year of Co-operatives and their site is extremely useful in summarising the principles of co-operatives. We’ve also come across a fantastic summary at CECODHAS Housing Europe which is the European Federation of Public, Cooperative & Social Housing.  There are further examples of student co-ops, and co-ops started by a collective group of individuals. For further inspiration of housing alternatives around world, look no further than the winners of the 2013 World Habitat Awards.  But the truth of the matter is that there are far too few housing co-operatives in the UK.

Have you found any interesting and inspiring projects out there?  Let us know your thoughts below.


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