Tempest In An Unoccupied Teapot: Homeless-Ravaged UK Has Too Many Homes

A block-long line of wooden framing picks out the shape of new apartments
New Apartment Construction at VCU photo by Eli Christman is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Build, build, build! Is it an effective strategy to create needed truly affordable housing?

Prior to and during the pandemic, United Kingdom builders have had the same attitude as North American Builders — “Build, Build, Build!” That attitude in the United States has been supported by a YIMBY (Yes in My Back Yard) movement, which promotes the idea that building tons of any kind of housing, even luxury housing, will start housing prices “trickling down.”

“Trickling down” will, one of these years (or possibly decades), cause even the poorest of the poor and the most homeless of the homeless to be sheltered. All that’s needed to achieve this is the relentless hammering biceps of constructors in cosmic concert with the unfettered laws of supply and demand.

In spite of transatlantic and quite possibly worldwide agreement that builders should build, build, build (good for the economy at worst), it seems that when careful research has been done, the rather surprising conclusion is that there are already enough houses in the UK to house everybody.1

A new article linked below picks up on this theme, beginning with the thinking that has caused local councils to consistently over-estimate their actual needs for new housing, thanks to the vagaries of official statistical forecasting requirements.

It seems that actual numbers for the present, as well as proposed numbers for the future, are founded on an unnecessary (except to satisfy building industry self-interest) requirement for more housing. So where is the empty housing hiding that fulfills the needs of endless social housing wait lists as well as the large and rapidly growing number of homeless?

The following article explores this question carefully, ending in an important conclusion, which is baldly stated in the article’s title. Read more in Byline TimesThe Government Cannot Build its Way Out of England’s Housing Crisis


  1. Here’s a report and very readable executive summary written by Ian Mulheirn. It is published by the UK Collaborative Centre For Housing Evidence: Tackling the UK housing crisis: is supply the answer?

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