What is Housing?
It seems a very simple question with a very simple answer. And part of the answer is very simple.
Housing is our home. Where we live.
Housing meets our basic human need for shelter. Maslow identified shelter as a physiological need.
But there is more to Housing.
I have purposely written this blog post as free from my own personal opinion as I have reasonably been able to. I intend to cover each of the below in future blog posts, so consider this to be an introduction of sorts, or a contents page, if you like.
So, what else is Housing?
Housing can be income. This isn’t just so called “greedy landlords”. This includes paid employees in the voluntary sector, local housing authorities, housing associations, property developers, tradesmen, solicitors and so on. Housing (or the lack of housing) is the direct or indirect source of income for more people than we may initially think.
Housing can be a pension. It is not uncommon for owner-occupiers to downsize or relocate to cheaper areas in their retirement years, using profits to subsidise other income and maintain a standard of living. Landlords having built up a portfolio, may choose to sell and realise the capital in their ‘investments’.
Housing can be inheritance. Many children will inherit their parents’ homes, in some parts of the UK a standard family home can sell for up to and beyond £1million. Inheritance tax may not be too popular, but regardless this can still be a significant sum of money to get ahead in life.
Housing is investment. Asian investors in particular love the London property market. This is on a grand scale and is showing no sign of stopping, despite Brexit.
Housing can be political. Theresa May announced today the Government will be spending £2billion for a “new generation” of Council houses. Jeremy Corbyn recently discussed rent control. Housing and politics are not strangers to each other, and many a manifesto have appealed to those with varying housing aspirations.
Housing can be a struggle. There are many households across the country living in sub-standard accommodation or that does not meet their needs for any number of reasons. Council waiting lists cannot house everybody and the private rented sector is often unaffordable for many households, property ownership being just a dream.
Housing can be out of reach. This is really an extension of the above, at the extreme end of the spectrum. Shelter reported there were 250,000 homeless people in December 2016, a number they said was a “conservative” total. Food banks are still common place across the country and street homeless people are a common sight.