Amidst the UK-wide trend of declining home ownership, diminishing social and council housing, and an ever-expanding private rental sector, Bristol’s housing crisis is one of the biggest issues for the city at the moment.
In Bristol, where the average house price comes in at just over £260,000, there are fewer and fewer homes available at what might be considered to be the lower end of the market. What’s more, because Bristol is a city which is becoming increasingly attractive to young professionals, rents are rising dramatically so that now average monthly rents are reaching near £1,000. This means that a large number of people are being moved on from their private rented accommodation so that the landlord can continue to hike up the price in search of higher profits.
Homelessness is also a major problem in the city, and is certainly linked to the city’s failure to build enough affordable housing, teamed with the rising rents. There are currently close to 10,000 on the waiting list for council homes and just a handful available to rent. Marvin Rees, Bristol’s mayor who was elected in May 2016, is determined to address the city’s housing issues and plans to invest close to £100 million in social and council housing in order to bridge the gap.
Paul Smith, the cabinet member for homes at Bristol City Council, has suggested that Right-To-Buy policies are heavily contributing to the problem. Homes are being bought up quicker than they can be built, which means that in recent years the council’s housing stock has actually been declining.
Last year just 150 of the 900 new homes that were built in Bristol were classed as affordable. Under Labour control, the council now has ambitions to build 2,000 homes per year in the city and surrounding areas, 800 of which will be deemed “affordable”. Paul Smith is planning on employing more staff to increase the council’s capacity to bring more homes back to use, locate more construction sites for new homes, and obtain planning permission more quickly. In an attempt to guarantee a better deal for tenants in the private rental sector, the mayor has backed an Ethical Lettings Charter in the city.
It is hoped that under Marvin Rees, and with increased transparency measures, Bristol’s housing crisis will improve somewhat over coming years.