Homes or Housing?

Handsworth is a densely populated area – 12,000 people living tightly packed buildings. So many of the big Victorian houses that were built during the height of the Industrial Revolution have been turned into blocks of flats and HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation).

Screenshot of Zoopla.co.uk on 12th April 2022, showing available rental accommodation.

A search for rental accommodation this morning shows a few results, and all but one were for rooms in shared accommodation or HMOs. A lot of these are tiny rooms with shared bathrooms, small communal kitchens and no shared relaxing space (for example a living room).

Turning a house into lots of tiny flats is good business for some people – you get guaranteed income (because housing benefit is paid directly to you) and the value of the building goes up much quicker.

That makes it harder for anyone who doesn’t already have loads of money to buy a house. And it lowers standards in the rental market.

When we first moved to Handsworth in 2010, we rented a two bedroom house with a garden for £600 a month. Now that would get you a room.

Ordinary working people and families are being priced out of housing, while companies and landlords get richer and richer.

It’s unequal, unfair, and needs fixing by a Council that puts people first.

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