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Housing: Long-Term Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:16 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Defence) 6:16 pm, 9th February 2016

I want to bring this debate back to the reality I see in my surgeries week after week, as families come to me pleading for help.

Last Friday, a family with two children came to see me. The father had become ill and had lost the ability to pay his rent in the private sector. He is now living with his family of four in a hostel for the homeless. His children are stigmatised by that experience. That is no way for children to grow up in our country. It is a family full of aspiration who just want a home of their own—somewhere safely to bring up their children. Following that, an intelligent gentleman came in. He was homeless. He was desperate to get a job, but he needed a home. He was desperate to get a home, but he needed a job. He was in a vicious circle. Homelessness, as we have heard, is on the increase, and that is unacceptable.

Those are not unique stories. I am confronted by similar ones every week. In York, 1,624 people are desperate for a home, so I want to reflect on the housing crisis there, some of the challenges and some of the fortunes we could turn around. Over the past 10 years, York has built only half the number of homes it needs. We need to be more ambitious. The housing market in York is collapsing, and people are being forced into the private rented sector because there is not enough social housing available. Some 26% of housing in my constituency is now private rented. The average price of a private rented house in York is £988 per calendar month—we are moving up rapidly to London-style prices—but the average wage is just £473, which is way below the national average. People aspire to a home of their own, but social housing is not available and they cannot engage in the private rented sector.