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Children in Crisis: Confronting the Stark Reality of England's Housing Emergency

In England, in 2024 it is hard to believe, yet a stark reality we have over 240,000 children living in temporary accommodation.

 


An unstable home environment can significantly impact children across various aspects of their lives, from emotional and psychological well-being to academic performance, social integration, and physical health. The effects of housing instability are far-reaching and profound.

 

Children experiencing homelessness or frequent moves often suffer from heightened stress, anxiety, and feelings of insecurity, which can delay their emotional development and ability to form secure attachments. Additionally, instability in living situations can disrupt learning and education, exacerbate social isolation, and increase the risk of poor physical health outcomes. Trauma and adverse childhood experiences associated with housing instability can have long-lasting implications for children's overall well-being and future opportunities.


The fact is we have far too many individuals and families trapped in a vicious cycle, moving from one temporary home to another without any sense of stability or security.


Yet, amidst these struggles, it's easy for some to feel disconnected from the issue, Imagine this happening to your children. We can’t because the likelihood is if you're reading this you are employed, have a home, and can keep your children safe and secure. It doesn’t impact us, right?


However, the truth is that the ripple effects of housing instability extend far beyond those directly affected, placing strain on vital public services like education, healthcare, and the justice system, while contributing to a deepening mental health crisis. It's a societal issue that impacts us all, underscoring the fundamental right of everyone to have a safe place to call home.


So, what is holding us back? 

  • Is it the bureaucratic red tape, lack of bold decisions, and vested interests hindering progress?

  • Is it the lack of land given only 8% of the UK is built on?

  • Surely, it’s the planning system, or the Nimby’s saying no to development?


Despite the clear imperative for action, numerous challenges persist, including bureaucratic hurdles, land scarcity, and resistance to development. Successive governments have failed to construct an adequate supply of social housing, perpetuating the cycle of instability.


To effect real change, we must prioritise the construction of social and truly affordable homes, setting aside profit-driven motives in favour of the well-being of individuals and communities.


It's time to embrace innovative approaches to housing delivery, focusing on quality, sustainable homes that can be built quickly and efficiently. This necessitates streamlining the planning process, unlocking unused land, and exploring alternative funding and investment avenues. Boldness, creativity, and education are required to break free from the status quo and pave the way for a brighter future.


The recently published Social Housing at Place Playbook for local authorities could hold the answers. The Playbook identifies an end goal and outlines a strategy to take advantage of the assets in play to achieve it. It captures both what has been successful before and new actions worth trialling.


The Playbook captures a plan to enable local authorities to start once again to deliver social rent homes at pace and scale, utilising land they have, leveraging available money and incubating an additional supply chain of housebuilders waiting in the wings.


It presents an ecosystem solution with three essential components:

  • Build homes in a new way  

  • Unlock unlikely land  

  • Recalibrate the economics


The plan also highlights the critical opportunity for a human-centric, outcome-led approach that embeds values into the design and delivery of new homes to benefit residents, communities and wider society.



As we confront the housing emergency, we must recognise the collective responsibility we share in ensuring that everyone has access to safe, secure, and affordable housing. By putting people and communities at the heart of our decision-making processes, we can work together to create lasting change and build a society where everyone has a place to call home.


Join our call for Action:

 

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