Housing charity Shelter has today launched a wide-ranging new strategy aimed at tackling what it describes as a “national emergency” in housing.
It says it wants to focus its national campaigning around a right to secure housing for everyone.
The charity’s research found that 52 per cent of the population believed that adequate housing was a fundamental right, while only 27 per cent disagreed, and the charity now
“Without a home, no one can achieve their full potential,” Polly Neate, the chief executive, and Helen Baker, the chair, wrote in their introduction to the strategy document. “With millions whose right to a home is under threat, neither can the country. We believe that because the need for a home is so all-consuming, a home is a basic moral right, and everything we will do from now will be done to defend that right.”
The charity will step up its campaigning for a right to a home, and will advocate for local and central government to encourage the building of many more homes. It will seek much stronger rights for tenants in private rented accommodation, particularly for children and their families, and an end to discrimination against individuals claiming benefits. It will also use its expertise to take strategic litigation cases to improve housing law.
Shelter will also attempt to identify the individuals who most needs its help, and signpost others to the most appropriate service. The charity said it had had 4.7 million contacts with people needing help with their housing last year, including through its website, and had identified a need to prioritise those most in need.
The charity has said it wants to launch “a nationwide movement demanding social housing and defending rights” which will harness the power of communities.
To do this it will aim to work more closely with smaller charities at a local and regional level. The charity will look at who in each region is offering advocacy and support to those at risk, and where there are strong existing networks it will try to work in those. Where there is a lack of a strong network, it will take a more proactive role.
Shelter has said it has access to expertise, data, and a bank of experts in housing law, who can help local charities advocating for change.
The charity has a number of regional hubs and more than 100 shops, and it is aiming to ensure that each of these acts as a centre of information and support for other bodies seeking to improve people’s housing.