A Home for all
I have a vision for Northampton - Homes for All. A Home for everyone I want to talk about that but first I want like to thank NPH, and officers for all their hard work, for engaging with tenants and meeting the needs of our tenants. They have come a long way in 3yrs.
Northampton has become the most vibrant and diverse town in the county. It is a university town with history. In our town we need affordable homes, fit for purpose, using nothing but the safest materials, as we don’t have a repeat of Grenfell.
But what do we see when we walk around the town, litter, boarded up homes, empty homes and the homeless on our streets. We know there are many other “hidden homeless”, sofa surfing.
Homelessness, has become a huge problem for this town. We have an increasing housing crisis. Where ever you look, in doorways, shop fronts, tents in park, in vehicles, squatting, homeless people are ending up there. People who are homeless are often unable to acquire and maintain regular safe, secure adequate housing. Landlord are increasing rents, (rooms are being rented out for £450 a month!), people experience job loss, family breakdown, we have an increasing population, and no matter how many times we go out and do the count, there will be more that will turn up the next time. No-one choses to become homeless. We need more houses and we need a change in policy.
Another problem we have is overcrowding. Homes lacking storage, privacy, space for children to play and do their homework has a knock effect on their education and development. Allowing social overcrowding is the council’s way of penalizing people who live in Council housing. A home is not just a physical space it provides roots, identity, security and sense of belonging, so what is the solution? We need a Northampton standard that does not include using living rooms as a bedroom.
The Landlords Forum is well attended. However, we need to reach out and challenge those landlords who exploit and profit from tenants, which makes me very angry. When rents go up families struggle to pay and they turn to the Council for housing. We have a generation of young people who will struggle to afford a mortgage or to get onto the property ladder. We have children without a stable home because they are moving around. They are seriously disadvantaged. Invest what you want, but without more homes, and decent homes, the problem will continue.
We currently have just over 3,000 people on the housing register, people living in temporary accommodation including children that’s shocking. So what is going wrong? I can tell what’s going wrong? We are not building enough affordable homes, family homes with space to help children develop and grow, because developers don’t want to build affordable homes. Why are we letting them get away with building only 10% or 15% instead of building 35%? We need to hold our ground and not allow that.
We need disabled people to be fairly assessed and improvements made so they may live independently in their own homes. We should not be underspending our DFG funds.
We should be campaigning for Government action- We need to stop selling our stock on the RTB. We need to abolish bedroom tax, and put a cap on rent.
Councils should stop paying agents and landlords huge sums of money for temporary housing and build more homes. A good example is Spring Boroughs. I recently took a stroll round the new housing estate and I was so happy to hear child’s laughter, all those houses made into a home, a community hub that brings people together not segregate them.
We need to find ways of delivering housing services, and support services that will improve the lives of the most disadvantaged. When are we going to adopt HomeFirst policy?
We are the decision makers in this chamber, we can make a difference and put it right otherwise we will leave a legacy failing the people of this town.
We need infrastructure and one Unitary council putting the people of this town first for a change and build Homes For All.
Case Study A family with disabled child, needing assistance. The child wants a room of his own to help him have his own space and privacy, and help him overcome his over dependence on his mother. Instead he was offered adaptations and counseling. The assessment wasn’t thorough and lacked clarity. And yet the council has unspent DFG money and deprives this child of his right to space and privacy.
- We need more houses and we need a change in policy.
- We need a Northampton standard that does not include using living rooms as a bedroom.
- We need to hold our ground and ensure developers build 35% affordable homes.
- We should not have an underspend on our DFG funds.
- We should be campaigning for Government action- remove the right to buy, abolish the bedroom tax, and put a cap on rent.
- Adopt a HomeFirst policy