Winchester Housing Board is a multi-agency strategic group that aims to develop a shared approach to addressing housing related issues in the area. Its membership is drawn from a wide range of public and voluntary sector organisations and it has links to the private sector.
It has the formal roles of setting the housing agenda for the Community Strategy and supporting the Local Strategic Partnership and Core Strategy, and has an informal role of providing housing input into a range of other housing related strategies developed by member organisations.
It focuses on three main areas:
New Homes: e.g. acting as a champion for new affordable housing and influencing the nature of new market housing.
Existing Homes: e.g. influencing the strategies aimed at improving the quality of homes in the private, voluntary and public sectors.
Inclusive Society: e.g. influencing the strategies and policies aimed at preventing homelessness and at ensuring fair access to affordable homes.
The need to provide more affordable housing is given the highest priority.
Affordable Housing Challenges
1. Increasing numbers of households on the housing register rising from 3000 to over 4000 in the past year.
2. There are around 130 bids for each 3 bed Council or housing association property that is offered for re-let. Average waiting time is nearly 5 years.
3. Increasing numbers of households accessing the Council’s Homelessness Service for advice. July to August figures for this year are up 40% compared to last year.
4. Affordability and insufficient housing supply are at the root of the problem.
- Recent household growth has forced many local lower income and young people out of the housing market
- An open marker terraced house in Winchester Town is likely to cost in excess of £300k.
- Without significant equity or savings over 80% of Winchester’s residents cannot afford to buy a home, even one towards the lower end of the market.
- With a need for around 350 new affordable homes a year, and a supply this year of only 50 new homes, the level of unmet affordable housing need is set to get worse year on year.
- Significantly higher rents in new housing association properties, brought about by a change in Government policy, will have an impact on lower income households.
- High demand for private rented properties, coupled with low supply, has led to high rent levels. Over 1/3 of local households cannot afford to rent a property from a private landlord.
5. The introduction of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA), which limits benefit payments, means that very few private rented properties are affordable for LHA claimants. A recent study suggested only 10% of advertised properties were affordable. When transitional arrangement end next year it is likely that homelessness will increase.
6. Those suffering hardship include families and people leaving hospital.
7. The low supply of shared housing makes also matters particularly tough for young people.
8. There is difficulty in finding suitable temporary accommodation, with increased pressure on hostel accommodation, and the use of bed and breakfast cannot be ruled out.
9. Poor housing conditions have a number of knock on implications, including for health, educational attainment and economic growth.
10. There is a need to increase the supply of affordable housing, particularly to meet the needs of families, and vulnerable adults and children.