If you want to understand the depth of the housing challenge facing our city regions, then a quick review of the headlines over the past few weeks should be all you need.
Four million working people will not be able to afford a decent place to live within the next decade and will rely on some kind of affordable housing, according to the Local Government Association.
The Resolution Foundation reports huge falls in home ownership across the country as properties become increasingly unaffordable for those struggling to take their first step on the housing ladder.
The idea that families are being priced out of the housing market is a well adopted mantra for those working in the sector, but the scale of the problem being highlighted in the latest round of statistics is surely enough to turn heads.
According to the report, no region has been affected more than Greater Manchester, home to many communities we serve, where home ownership has dropped from 72% to 58%.
These are exciting times for the region, with Devolution handing unprecedented powers and budgets to our local leaders. But these statistics only come to highlight what many of us already believe, that tackling the housing crisis in Greater Manchester head on must be a central pillar in planning for a prosperous future for the region.
For that to happen, we must accept a few fundamental truths.
Firstly, we must learn from the miscalculations made by previous national Governments that the private sector can be exclusively relied on to build our way out of a crisis.
We shouldn’t blame private housebuilders for this. Solving the housing crisis is not the reason they exist. And with the economic uncertainty surrounding post-Brexit Britain, you expect that many will continue to cut their cloth accordingly.
But for housing associations, Brexit isn’t something we should dwell on. Instead we should return as quickly as possible to the task at hand – building homes for the people and communities that need them most.
Latest figures show we need to be building more than 10,000 homes per year in Greater Manchester to keep up with demand. Housing associations across the region can take a huge dent out of that figure.
Secondly, we must accept that the equation is far more complex than simply building a combination of social housing and home ownership properties.
If we are here to provide homes for people who cannot access the market, then we need to understand the needs of a very wide demographic.
It is clear that there are currently huge gaps in the market that families are falling through, which only piles further pressure on housing waiting lists and social housing stock.
That means building homes of all kinds of tenure to provide a stepping stone and a new route to home ownership for those currently locked out of home ownership.
ForViva’s latest venture, ForLiving, has been set up to do just that. In less than a year we have planned for, built and sold our first shared-ownership homes in Greater Manchester. With many more planned for the future.