Social entrepreneurs have the solutions to the UK housing crisis

Social entrepreneurs have the solutions to the UK housing crisis

Building Futures Lead and Clore Social Leadership Fellow Louise Cannon explores the current challenges within the UK Housing market and identifies how social entrepreneurs can help.

The UK is in the grip of a housing crisis. Over 260,000 new private houses are required to meet the demand of the housing sector, while house prices are now almost seven times the average income. Levels of homelessness are rising, and there are now nearly nine million people in the UK living in private rented accommodation – at risk of soaring rents, hidden fees and instability.

The problems extend beyond a lack of affordable housing. Local authorities face challenges in deciding how to prioritise who they home, while Housing Associations grapple with the implications of the extension to ‘Right to buy’ – which could lead to a loss of 24,000 housing association homes a year. Helping an ageing population to remain independent presents additional complexity for policy makers.

There are clear differences of opinion on how to respond to these growing problems. At UnLtd, we are convinced that social entrepreneurs have solutions. There are individuals out there with radical ideas to address housing in the UK, and the passion and commitment to start well and thrive.

We’ve already backed people like Paul Chatterton, co-founder of Lilac – which stands for Low Impact Living Affordable Community. Paul and a group of friends began thinking about how they could live differently and better in the future, ‘ripping up the rulebook’ on housing. Seven years on the result is Lilac, a unique co-operative co-housing project in Leeds comprising of 20 straw homes of different sizes with a common house in the middle. Car parks are pushed to the edge so children have car free space to play. Paul describes Lilac as “a blueprint of housing in the future that we can achieve right now.” He is now helping community-led housing groups in Leeds and neighbouring urban areas to create high quality, affordable, environmentally sustainable homes.

As part of our Building Futures programme UnLtd are today launching a new £50,000 innovation fund for social entrepreneurs like Paul with ideas to tackle the housing crisis. We’re looking for people with:

  • An understanding of contemporary housing issues and their impact on individuals
  • An ability to explain how their idea or venture builds more resilient communities
  • A strong social conscience and a commitment to people and communities

In short – people who want to help address the needs of individuals and families and ensure we are developing future-proof homes.

We’re not acting alone. Supporters of our new fund include CLT Network, Orbit Group, Clore Social Fellow and Chief Exec of the Living Space Project Maria Adebowale, and Paul Chatterton. They will be bringing their skills and expertise to the decision making process, helping to ensure that innovative ideas develop well and thrive.

If you think you have a great idea to help the UK meet the housing needs of the vulnerable, get in touch today.

Click here to find out more and apply for a Building Futures Award

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