We need affordable housing to be built for the thousands on housing waiting lists

New homes do need to be built on the Isle of Wight to help to resolve the housing crisis.
New homes do need to be built on the Isle of Wight to help to resolve the housing crisis.

In last figures reported in the County Press in May 2022, there are currently 2,466 applicants waiting on the housing register on the Isle of Wight.

Bearing in mind that spare bedrooms are against policy, the number 2,466, bad as it is, is nowhere near the true amount of people living life in constant instability.

Numbers broken down from May 2022 showed people registered for the following:

  • 1,185 one-bed

  • 756 two-bed

  • 402 three-bed

  • 104 four-bed

  • 19 five or six-bed

The 2,466 is only the applicants. Many have partners, families, and dependents. Add to this the 23 homeless singles/couples and the 42 homeless families — the many vulnerable kids sofa surfing — a realistic estimate is that we have around 6,500 people living in temporary accommodation, waiting for something approaching a stable place to call home and build a life.

In order to house them, we need to build around 2,500 houses.

The council’s housing strategy key actions include: ‘facilitating 100 houses per year, mainly ‘affordable homes’ and maximising the provision of affordable housing on council-owned land.

There are three gigantic, massive, conflicting statements in this 19-word statement of jargon.

Firstly ‘affordable housing,’ according to Gov.uk is: ‘Affordable housing includes social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to specified eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. It can be a new-build property or a private sector property that has been purchased for use as an affordable home’

Other figures bandied about have been ‘affordable rent’ being 80 per cent of market rent/price. Affordable has become a buzz word that means naff all, is totally out of reach for the majority, but probably looks good on a PowerPoint presentation.

If a key action of the council housing strategy is to ‘facilitate’ 100 houses, does that mean actually build? If so, then at their current rate of ‘action’ we should have enough houses to give all those in current need of a home in a quarter of a century. Baldric had better plans.

I also take issue with the ‘maximising the provision of affordable housing on council-owned land.’ That land is owned by us. It is not to be sold off to the highest bidder. I have never understood how land bestowed to the people can be sold off without a murmur. We have the land, build on it.

We do need housing to be built. We need truly affordable housing for the thousands languishing on housing lists, being pushed from pillar to post. We do not need new developments with a few ‘affordable’ units tacked on to ‘tick boxes.’

Those on waiting lists are already in schools, GP surgeries and are part of our communities. Any building strategy must, in all conscience, put those in unstable housing at the top of the list when it comes to providing homes. The resulting fall in people in crisis would be a wonderful thing.

  • PS: What has happened to the £40million the Isle of Wight Council agreed to borrow in February 2022 to build houses for Islanders, address the housing crisis, and earmark 2.5million to start a council-owned housing market?