Jan 102016

Church, council and national housing representatives have welcomed an open meeting to discuss the problem of housing need in St Albans and nationally.

St Albans Cllr Iain Grant said: “Homelessness in St Albans is rising. Homeless applications in the city have risen from 119 in 2014 (April to November) to 136 in the same period in 2015 – an increase of 14%. There are also currently 125 families in temporary accommodation, which includes bed and breakfast accommodation.”

Associate priest at St Peter’s Church , St Albans, Jos Perris, said she welcomed the opportunity for wider debate about homelessness. She said: “Whilst St Peter’s church does not support any political party, we do take a very keen interest in homelessness and we actively support Open Door, both financially and through volunteering.”  

 Andrew Dixon, policy officer of the national Federation of Master Builders, who is speaking at the meeting, said: “There is no doubt that a long running under-supply of new homes is now creating a crisis of affordability which is impacting on people across the social and economic spectrum. One of the ways in which we can address this is to break down some of the barriers to small scale developments of the type delivered by smaller locally-based house builders.”

The open meeting “Housing – What Next?” is being held at 7.30pm on Tuesday 12th January 2016, at the United Reformed Church in Beaconsfield Road, St Albans.

Aimed at both those working in housing and members of the public who would like to learn more or make their views known, the meeting will debate the worsening housing crisis and what can be done to resolve the problem.

An expert panel will lead the discussion, comprising –

David Rodgers, former CE of Cooperative Housing,

Tina Barnard, CE of Watford Community Homes and

Andrew Dixon.

The meeting will be chaired by Kerry Pollard, who is on the board of several housing associations and a former CE of another, as well as being chair of the National Labour Housing Group.

Kerry said: “The current problem is all-encompassing, with young people unable to afford deposits, astronomical private rents and smaller housing associations struggling to survive. Genuinely affordable homes must be built where tenants aren’t forced to apply for housing benefit. Instead of borrowing to pay housing benefit we should be borrowing to invest in house building!”

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