We need fresh thinking on housing in London, and the 2021 Green amendment to the City Hall budget breaks new ground with practical, fully-financed proposals to ease the worst pains of the housing crisis.
Our proposals include three fully-costed plans to tackle the housing crisis: helping emergency service workers struggling to afford London living costs, supporting the historic high numbers of young people who have become homeless during the pandemic, and backing renters in need of more support and protection.
We all clapped for nurses, carers, shop workers and police officers, and our proposals would do something real to pay tribute to their work and their needs.
This idea is a simple first step to fill a gap in current City Hall thinking. It makes use of unallocated grant money to buy existing homes for rent to key workers on average incomes, at London Living Rents they can genuinely afford.
And with the rents we receive we can take a further step and borrow to buy even more homes too. With a total of nearly 2,000 affordable homes for key workers, this is a sustainable, workable idea, which the current Mayor is not yet looking at.
Over the last year we have seen the number of homeless young people rise, and this must be addressed by City Hall. Our plans find £1.2 million to provide as many dedicated bed-spaces for Londoners under 25 as possible, along with wider support.
For the second year, we have also proposal financial support for London’s independent renters’ groups, with £1.5 million in grants to help them develop and grow. The Mayor has adopted many of our good ideas in the past five years, but he hasn’t picked this one up yet.
London’s renters, homeless young people and key workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic would be given some of the urgent support they need, if our proposals were in place.
I hope the current Mayor will look at how the proposals help to fill important gaps in his plans, when it comes to his final budget next month. And if he doesn’t, these ideas will be ready for Londoners to vote for in May, when I am standing to replace him as Mayor.
Watch my speech proposing the budget amendment motion today:
The coronavirus pandemic has deepened London’s housing crisis but, even before the city was battered by the current emergency, vital ‘blue light’ workers were already being priced out of living in the city.
My own research has found half of all our police officers live outside the capital and the Royal College of Nursing surveyed their members and found London’s high cost of living was forcing nursing staff out of the capital.
Today’s proposal would start to reverse that trend by acquiring new London Living Rent homes specifically for key workers.
The first stage would buy homes outright from new developments intended for market sale, using unallocated housing grant money. The second and third stages would use income from these to finance prudent borrowing for further acquisitions.
Coronavirus restrictions have also exposed inadequate support for homeless under-25s, and youth homelessness has hit an historic high.
Our plans would create youth-specific bed spaces in homeless accommodation, something that does not yet exist in any meaningful way, along with wider support.
The amendment also includes a funding pot of £1.5 million for renters’ rights groups to develop and grow as more and more people living in the private rent sector need help as furlough payments don’t always cover their rents.
This is the second year the Green amendment has put forward an idea for development grants to independent groups who provide practical support to renters, and the current Mayor has failed to take this up.