'Manchester still has time to curb housing crisis'
- People from across Manchester invited to ideas exchange
- Participants ranged from architects to squatters
- No prominent MP parliament attended despite invitations
Manchester still has time to save itself from an impending housing crisis, a mini-conference heard.
The ‘Housing Ideas Exchange’ event at MMU was organised by housing campaigner Adam Price for professionals, academics, activists and charities to come together to “inspire and encourage new ideas around the housing crisis".
Adam said: “We just thought, we want to run an event, because people really aren’t engaging, politicians and so on. But we know that people have got the answers, we know that people have got great ideas, we know that if people talk to each other, there’d be great solutions for the housing and homeless crisis.”
Recent studies have revealed that Manchester has well and truly entered its very own housing crisis, and the two big ‘H words’ - housing and homelessness - were the biggest topics discussed at the event.
A study released by housing charity, Shelter in 2016 revealed that more than 3,000 people were without a home in Greater Manchester, with the city having the highest figures of homelessness in the North West with around 2,000 people living in the streets or temporary accommodation.
Social housing strategist Amy Varle, was also in attendance, fresh off the plane from her stateside trip where she was researching homelessness and affordable housing solutions in America.
She highlighted Britain’s welfare state as a possible solution, saying: ”If you or I were to become homeless today, we have the safety net of a welfare benefit system. Especially in Manchester, there are affordable housing options, they might not be easily accessible, but the housing options do exist.
“In places like Los Angeles or Manhattan, they don’t have a benefit system, they don’t have affordable property the same way we do. Seeing how things are in America really symbolises why I’m so passionate about what I do, why I work so hard, why I’m here on my day off at 8 o’clock on a Thursday night, because I don’t want Manchester to become the next Brooklyn.”
Much has been made of the large number of empty homes left vacant by homeowners across the country while the number of homeless people rises. In 2016, more than 200,000 homes in England with a value of £43bn were empty for at least six months a year.
Social entrepreneur, Papakow Baiden told the conference: “It’s not that simple. I was speaking to Tom Copley from the London Assembly, I’ve spoken to Hammersmith MP, Andy Slaughter and I’ll be speaking to John Healey in February, Labour’s shadow ministry for housing. We are all in agreement that we do need to use more of what we have, but there has also been an undersupply of social housing. We have been building less and less since the second world war, and that is an issue in itself.
“London today is what Manchester will be in maybe 10-15 years time, by way of housing prices and stuff, not anything else. So yes, you’re further up the same timeline as us, so you can control your destinies and your futures, but it’s not enough to just be aware of these things, there needs to be willingness to act, willingness to steer this ship in a different direction. Otherwise, you will just be London in 10 years … good luck with that Manchester.”