Election issues #4: Housing and homelessness

June 5, 2017
Our current housing crisis takes different but connected forms: increasing homelessness; a lack of truly affordable homes for first-time buyers and renters; sub-standard existing rented accommodation. We see this across Shepway. None of these issues are being addressed by the District Council’s pursuit of Otterpool ‘garden town’ on agricultural land near Westenhanger nor its quest to fill in many of the vital open spaces between and within our existing communities, such as Prince’s Parade.
We have argued from the start that all development needs to be sustainable, in terms of services and infrastructure. It needs to be the right type of housing, in the right places. And it needs to be part of a vision of regeneration of our existing communities that is resident-led, not developer-led.

At a national Green Party level, our election manifesto includes the following:
  • A living rent for all through rent controls and more secure tenancies for private renters, an end to letting fees and the introduction of mandatory licensing for all landlords.
  • Giving tenants a voice by supporting the development of renters’ unions.
  • A major programme to build affordable, zero carbon homes, including 100,000 social rented homes each year by 2022.
  • End mass council house sales and scrap Right to Buy at discounted prices.
  • Abolish the cruel and unfair bedroom tax.
  • Action on empty homes to bring them back into use and a trial of a Land Value Tax to encourage the use of vacant land and reduce speculation.
  • Protect young people’s housing needs by reinstating housing benefit for under 21s and reverse housing benefits cuts.
  • Stop declaring people as ‘intentionally homeless’ and give Local Authorities the same duties towards single people and childless couples as to families.
  • Help first-time buyers by aiming for house price stability – axing buy-to-let tax breaks, and backing community-led approaches to building affordable homes.
  • Significantly improve housing choice for D/deaf, disabled and older people by requiring all councils to appropriately plan for their housing needs and significantly increase the numbers of homes built to lifetime home and mobility standards over the next 5 years.
Our parliamentary candidate, Martin Whybrow, says: “I believe that in the fifth richest country in the world, there is no reason why anyone should be homeless. I am only too aware of the issues locally, including the chronic lack of sheltered accommodation, as I have regularly attended the Shepway Homeless Forum, which is hosted by the Rainbow Centre. I have also joined other volunteers to provide hot meals for local homeless people, have slept out to raise funds for the Winter Shelter, and have also got to know and have tried to help some of the local groups that provide vital advice and services, including Porchlight, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Shepway Foodbank, and Turning Point (who provide services for drug and alcohol addiction, which is often, of course, associated with homelessness). I have also successfully fought alongside colleagues in my capacity as a Kent County Councillor for the ring-fencing of KCC’s KSAS service, which provides essential items when people are in crisis.
“Personally and at a party level, we are totally committed to trying to provide a safe, secure home for everyone.”

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