Currently in Britain there are two million families homeless or in need of a decent home. One million homes in Britain are empty and 350,000 of those have been derelict for six months or more, and 300,000 fewer homes than is needed are being build per year. These statistics are what architect and campaigner George Clarke is using to draw attention to The Great British Property Scandal.
The Great British Property Scandal is a call to make the public and the government fully aware of the grievous misuse of derelict houses in the UK, and to turn these empty houses into homes. To put this into context, in York alone, there are 2691 people on the housing waiting list and 1,422 empty homes in the city. The poor logic of this situation is inescapable, and Clarke’s aim is to rectify the problem.
In October 2010 the coalition announced a £100 million funding initiative to bring empty homes back into use. What Clarke is campaigning for is that this money is used practically and not just for what he terms the ‘usual suspects’. 88% of the empty homes in the country are privately owned and it has been ascertained that a large proportion of those homeowners would be happy to find occupants as long as they had help from the government. The 350,000 empty homes are completely wasted assets for the owners and for the country. The campaign’s intention is to home people and provide equity for the prospective landlords.
There are two proposed changes Clarke suggests will enable the quick turnaround of these houses. Firstly, a law change would be needed to give communities the power to turn abandoned properties into homes for people who need them. Also, Clarke suggests that access to low-cost loans for homeowners with empty properties would go a long way to help them to provide housing for those that require a decent home.
Clarke’s campaign has led him to scores of desperate people, all victims of the red tape surrounding housing today. Ex-soldiers sleeping on friends’ sofas, young couples priced out of the market, and the homeless have all been affected by the bureaucracy.
Clarke is calling for anyone interested in the campaign to take part and inspire change. This can be implemented in many ways.
The petition can be signed on the website, where a wealth of information can also be found.
Your local politician dealing with the matter is Councillor James Alexander and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Empty Homes Spotter app can be found on the App Store, if you would like to report an empty home.