There is a housing crisis across London and Tooting has been hit hard. As property prices in the constituency continue to climb, so does the number of people renting their homes. I am a renter myself and fully appreciate the issue of rising rents, so pushing for more homes to be built where rents are capped is a priority. I am also working closely with the Mayor of London to build genuinely affordable homes in Tooting, so that more residents have the opportunity to own their own home.
My guest writer, Tooting Councillor Paul White, shares his thoughts on affordable housing:
We are very lucky to be living in a place like Tooting, especially at this current time. With every passing month, another new business opens and makes Tooting an even more vibrant place to live.
As Tooting becomes more successful, the proximity to Central London becomes more popular, so does the demand for affordable properties to rent and buy.
London is facing a huge housing crisis; there are not enough homes to go around. There has been a failure over the last 30 years to build real genuinely affordable homes to meet demand.
As demand for homes has grown, the supply has not. Rents have risen, despite people’s incomes remaining stable. Four in ten Tooting Ward residents are private renters, while two in ten are council or housing association tenants. Currently, it costs on average, £1,900 to rent a two bedroom flat in Wandsworth. Our MP, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, rents in the constituency and therefore understands the trouble facing so many of our residents.
Recently I supported a local family in court, their landlord had sought to evict them unlawfully, an all too common problem in Wandsworth. Some landlords have been known to raise rents high enough to push families out - over 2,300 children in Wandsworth are now without a home.
Over the past four decades, Wandsworth Council has sold off 25,000 council homes. There is nothing wrong with tenants being given the opportunity to by their council home, so long as they are replaced for the next generation. This is where the council have failed, we see this more than ever where we have a shortfall of over 10,000 social homes over the last 25 years.
Of the 25,000 council homes sold in Wandsworth, 9,000 of these are now in private hands, being rented privately at three times the rent of social homes.
We need to start building genuinely affordable homes. As supply rises, the price of rent will fall and genuine affordability can be attained. Too many people who are born and bred Tooting, are being priced out.
When we are building, we need to build good quality, genuinely affordable homes. Good quality materials must be used, they must be sustainable, ensuring they meet the right green energy targets, with adequate green space for occupants. Where needed, local infrastructure preserved so that we build proper communities, with proper amenities. The buildings must be harmonious with the current environment and be served well by public transport, with every effort made to encourage cycling and walking, so limiting environmental impacts.
It has been excellent to see our local MP, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan meeting with residents, local housing associations and others to ensure all of this will be addressed in Tooting. Further to this, the London Plan put forward by the Mayor of London will maintain Tooting and Wandsworth’s unique appeal, so to ensure that our home is a place where all can feel at ease, with the knowledge they have a good quality, affordable home that does not impact the planet unduly.
Building affordable homes is crucial, without doing so, Tooting risks losing the charm and vibrancy we can see today.
- Cllr Paul White