Calls for unity to tackle the current health crisis may ultimately be extended to housing and real estate as well.
It’s no secret that Britain was already in the grip of a housing crisis before the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, with working-class families priced out of areas like London and successive governments failing to help struggling Britons secure financial stability through home ownership. According to research carried out on behalf of the National Housing Federation last year, some 2.5 million people in the UK reported being unable to afford their rent or mortgage, while 3.6 million people were living in an overcrowded home. At the time, 400,000 people were homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The pandemic, however, has shone a light on a housing system that has been broken for years, while creating new stresses on a sector unprepared for the sudden shock of the economic shutdown. The most immediate impact has been on private renters who lost their jobs due to the pandemic and now face the daunting possibility of eviction, while early government promises to provide hotel accommodation to homeless people seem long forgotten. On top of this, sofa surfing, overcrowded housing, and the reality that young people are living with their parents for longer have all meant stay-at-home orders pose an additional mental health burden to countless Britons.