It's Habinteg's #ForAccessibleHomes week of action. From 9-13 September we'll be featuring expert guest blogs all week on the accessible housing crisis and the steps we need to take to build more, quality accessible homes for our ageing and disabled population. Friday's blog is from Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation
As Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, I have the privilege of visiting affordable housing schemes run by housing associations across the country. I regularly see first-hand how housing associations like Habinteg transform people’s lives by providing quality, affordable homes. Habinteg’s #ForAccessibleHomes campaign is raising awareness of the importance of those homes being accessible, and I’m pleased to lend it my support.
Habinteg understands that in many cases, older and disabled people do not need supported housing to live independently. Habinteg are committed to providing general needs housing that is completely accessible. So a resident who uses a wheelchair, for example, could easily get around not only their own home, but their neighbours’ too.
Habinteg’s #ForAccessibleHomes campaign celebrates the positive impact living in an accessible home has on an individual’s life. For disabled people, living in an accessible home can mean everything: being able to have a place of your own or live with friends; being able to work and socialise; being happy in your home. This is hugely important to disabled people or those with access needs, but also to the communities we all live in.
We know that there is a shortfall of four million homes nationally. We need to be building 340,000 homes each year, including 90,000 social homes, so that everyone can have somewhere secure and affordable to live.
But there is more to the housing crisis than an overall supply issue. It is also about the types of home we are, and are not, building enough of. #ForAccessibleHomes highlights the lack of accessible homes currently available. Habinteg’s Insight report: A forecast for accessible homes shows that outside of London less than a quarter of homes planned between now and 2030 are set to meet any access standard.
Disabled people are twice as likely to live in social housing than non-disabled people, so it’s really important that housing associations lead the way in delivering the affordable, accessible homes the nation needs.
The Government could do more to ensure we build the type of homes that will meet the country’s needs, and the recently announced consultation on improving the accessibility of new homes is a welcome step in the right direction.
The housing association sector has really found its campaigning voice over recent years. Given the impact our collective campaigning has had in the past, I am really excited to see so many housing associations using their voice now to support #ForAccessibleHomes.
Our sector’s ambition is that everyone who wants a great place to live can come to a housing association – achieving that means building accessible homes. #ForAccessibleHomes is a valuable celebration of the impact our sector’s accessible homes have on people’s lives, and a call to arms for us to collectively deliver even more.