Protesters gathered in Central London on 17th March 2015, asking for all political parties in the UK to commit to ending the housing crisis and building more homes, for everyone.
An impressive crowd of 2,500 protesters from the Homes for Britain campaign, heard Jonathan Dimbleby welcome political party speakers Grant Shapps, Hilary Benn, Caroline Lucas and Ed Davey and UKIP party leader Nigel Farage, to the rally.
Film director Ken Loach also took the stage, to rapturous applause by the audience, reminding everyone of the tremendous effect, his 1966 film “Cathy come Home” had on raising awareness of homelessness and building more houses.
“It is much worse now” he told the audience “with 93,000 children homeless, in this rich country”.
The housing crisis and housing inequalities have deepened, especially in London where housing wealth is more than a quarter of the whole nation’s property wealth (£1.2 trillion) according to analysis from the National Housing Federation.
In London, younger renters, first-time buyers, wealthy domestic homeowners and international investors all compete for the same properties, driving prices up and excluding even more young people from the dream of home-ownership.
“Levels of home ownership are collapsing among young people but increasing among older people” says the Chartered Institute of Housing.
Solving the housing crisis needs political will.
“Politicians need to make housing affordable but they don’t live in the real world. Everyone needs a home”, Pearl Halliday, a retired tenant and volunteer of Bolton at Homes said. She had travelled a 5 hour journey to join the rally on the day.
Not being able to afford, renting or buying a home, is not an individual problem.
“Housing is a problem for all our (business) members”, added to the audience, Rhianon Kelly from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). “It is one of the biggest weaknesses of the UK economy compared to other countries”.
Housing policy has undergone extensive change since the current coalition government came into power.
“Housing has always been close to my heart”, told the audience Grant Shapps. “Council houses are being built at the highest level in 23 years”, he added. “It’s true that we must end the housing crisis within a generation”.
Housing organizations from across the whole housing market came together and “found their voice” as David Orr, Chief Executive of the NHF coined it, in a final speech to end the day.
All along the day, small baby voices were heard intermittently in between speakers. A little girl was in the rally with her father from Bristol.
She couldn’t speak but her father while holding her, said: “She is the younger generation we need to build more homes for”.
This was an article I wrote as part of an assignment for my Journalism course with the London School of Journalism.