Housing crisis is leaving millions of us sick and childless, suggests survey

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THE housing crisis is disrupting family life and making people ill, suggests survey commissioned by the Affordable Housing Commission (AHC).

The stress of unaffordable housing is taking its toll on mental health, it is claimed, while the crisis is potentially stopping nearly two million people from having children.

The national YouGov poll, undertaken for the AHC, surveyed over 2,000 British adults. It shows that housing affordability is affecting millions of people and dictating major decisions at different stages of people’s lives, from moving out of home and living independently to starting a family.

Key findings include:

  • 13% of UK adults polled (under the age of 45 in a couple) have delayed or not had children due to their housing situation – potentially affecting 1.8 million people nationally
  • Nearly a third (31%) of parents with adult children living at home, who took part in the poll, don’t expect them to move out or for it to take 10 or more years – potentially affecting 2.4 million people nationally
  • A quarter (25%) of those surveyed who are living in unaffordable housing said their mental health has suffered because of their housing situation — potentially affecting 2 million people nationally

The research also reveals that housing stress is a major worry for people and a strain on their mental health. One in eight (13%) of those polled say their mental health has been negatively affected by their housing situation, rising to one in four (25%) for those living in unaffordable housing, where rent or mortgage equal more than a third of their total household income.

“The housing system is hindering, not helping, millions of people — particularly those who are putting off big life decisions because of it,” said Lord Richard Best, chair of the AHC.

“Unaffordable housing, especially in the private rented sector, is now a serious strain on people’s mental health and a barrier to having a better life. We need a fundamental rethink and structural change to rebalance it and ensure it works now and for future generations.”

The independent, non-partisan AHC was established by the Smith Institute with the support of the Nationwide Foundation. Its objectives are to examine the causes and effects of the affordability crisis in housing and explore solutions. Its recommendations are due to be published in March 2020.

Update, 27-2-20: Responding to the research, Kate Henderson, chief executive at the National Housing Federation, said: “This research demonstrates that problems with the housing market are affecting the population in increasingly insidious ways: disrupting family life, mental health and fundamental life choices.

“Young people are increasingly forced into expensive and often low-quality private rentals because of the shortage of social housing and increasingly unaffordable house prices. With private landlords able to evict tenants with little notice, this is an unstable situation for anyone to live in and especially those thinking about starting a family.

“Increased investment into social housing at the upcoming budget offers a massive opportunity for the government to remove the barriers identified in this report, level up the country and ultimately help resolve the housing crisis.”



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