The escalating housing crisis

This evening I will be standing with the people of Brighton at a public meeting to address the housing crisis, 7pm at the Brighthelm Center on North Road. Caroline Lucas MP, Bill Randall (Brighton and Hove Council Chair of Housing) and Eileen Short (Defend Council Housing) will be speaking to what should be a great crowd of local people. The event is organised jointly by the fantastic Brighton People’s Assembly and the Brighton Living Rent Campaign.

It’s important that this escalating crisis is addressed, and I look forward to meeting members of Brighton Kemptown and the wider community, and hearing their concerns. Decent, affordable housing is not a privilege but a basic right – I’m committed to that idea, and the fact that homelessness and poor living conditions permeate our society is unacceptable.

In Brighton, rents rose 10% last year

In Brighton, rents rose 10% last year. That is an outrageous rise that far outstrips wage increases, leaving thousands of people at the mercy of the market. I know it’s a problem that affects hundreds and thousands of people in the Brighton Kemptown area – Brighton is a wonderful place to live, but it is also highly in demand. If we continue to let wealthy landowners dictate rents with very little regulation, then rates will continue to rise, and our city might become just as unaffordable as London.

The fact is, though, we don’t have to let this crisis escalate. There are things that can be done to help people have access to good housing at reasonable rates. When developers sit on land, they aggravate housing shortages and force up prices – that’s why the Green Party supports replacing Council Tax with Land Value Tax to discourage wealthy landowners from the practice. On top of that, we would end the destructive “Right to Buy” scheme introduced in 1981, which has lost the country 1.5 million council homes since then. We need to stop trying to callously force people out of their homes, and instead introduce a sustainable system that helps society as a whole.

Rent controls have worked in many other places in the world, and they could work here.

For too long, our major parties have refused to acknowledge the real issues with housing in our country. Rent controls have worked in many other places in the world, and they could work here. Introducing a cruel, punitive ‘bedroom tax’, however, is not the way to help the crisis, and all it has done is harmed disabled and poor people by uprooting their lives or taking more of their money. Compassion is what we need, not cruelty.

I will shortly be posting all my ideas about the housing crisis, and what can be done to help people in Brighton Kemptown and across the nation. You can also join me tonight at the Brighthelm Centre for what I hope will be a fantastic and very informative meeting.

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