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Hackney’s housing strategy

Why Hackney Council must scrap their housing strategy

(written in March 2010)

We are Hackney Housing Group, a collective of badly housed and homeless people who are campaigning for better housing and our rights. We have read the Council’s Housing Strategy which they are currently developing and we are challenging the Council to scrap it now! This explains why.

Our problem is the housing shortage:

  • 17,604 households (18.7%) in the Borough are living in unsuitable housing the council says but we know there are many more then this!
  • 1,896 households in temporary accommodation (2008)
  • There are currently 9,018 overcrowded households in Hackney

Hackney Council’s solution?

To make 1,779 new affordable homes ( this will be for sale and rent) per year from 2008 to 2018. 4,183 new homes are needed a year in Hackney. We will lack an extra 3,000 homes a year under this strategy.

Hackney has a new housing strategy. It says its ‘core objective’ is to create “mixed and sustainable communities. This will NOT prioritise increasing the amount of social housing. Instead Hackney Council wants to:

–                     improve housing advice and information

–                     promote low cost home ownership

–                     support the growth of private rented housing

Meanwhile the amount of social rented housing has got significantly smaller. Half of the households in the private sector spend more then half of their income on rent. In social housing ¾ of households spend less then 25% of their income on rent. Between 1991 and 2001, overcrowding in Hackney rose by 52%. To try and reduce the figures of people who need housing the council says single people and people from outside the EU will not be helped.

Our solution:

We want mixed and sustainable communities, like the council does, but we do not accept their false link between social class and social housing. There are mixed communities within social housing.  Council housing was not originally created for “people in need”. It created simply to house people and it should be for everyone. The point is that we need affordable and secure rented accommodation to be able to work if we are able, raise our families and not fall into debt.

Affordable rent needs to be about having enough money left over to live a decent life. We think we should pay at most 25% of our income on rent. This is currently only possible in socially rented accommodation.

Where are new homes coming from?

Hackney says new homes will come from redevelopment in Dalston, estate renewal in Woodberry Down and the Olympic village. But when you actually look at the figures there is no social housing in the Dalston development and there will be no low rent housing in the Olympic village according to its private developers. While Hackney recently got some money to build 187 new socially rented homes on Woodberry Down estate they are a long way off completion.

In July 2010 it was revealed Hackney Council had underspent their housing budget by 15 million pounds.Read about it here.

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