Housing associations in and around London, England have been increasingly frustrated in their efforts to build housing that is affordable for households with low and very low incomes.1 They have created a Homes for Heroes program that targets people who worked on the front lines during the COVID-19 lockdown. They are also pitching three strategies to make land more affordable.
Homes for Heroes
Homes for Heroes takes its inspiration from Homes fit for Heroes, which saw thousands of homes built for veterans of World War I and their families.2 It also builds on the groundswell of support for front line workers during the lockdown. The proposal is to add 100,000 new housing units in the London area that would be affordable for the heroes who worked on the front lines during COVID-19. The units would be built over five years. Housing associations are joining with businesses that build modular homes to make this proposal. For more, see at G15: Homes for Heroes
Making Land Affordable for Social Housing
Network Homes, a charitable non-profit housing association, owns 20,000 units in the London area. Founded in the early 1970’s, the association takes the view that housing is a right, regardless of income. Their long history means they are well versed in the land development business.
Based on their experience, Network Homes is proposing three changes that will make it possible to build social housing in greater quantities by bringing down land costs. One of the ideas is a mandatory fee to be paid by private developers who are building new housing. The fee would replace the current public-private partnership agreements and viability assessments, which have proved so disappointing as a pipeline for affordable units. News of this idea has been carried in propertywire: London housing association calls for development tax to ease the housing crisis
The second and third strategies would give councils more authority to decide land uses on developable land, and reign in the extraordinary profits that come with the jump in value that occurs when land receives planning permission. These strategies are discussed more fully at Network Homes: Making Land Deliver