Hackney in East London is at the center of the UK's housing crisis. “Average prices in the borough are well over half a million pounds,” a local MP, Meg Hillier, told the Hackney Gazette recently. “Rent is soaring, with overcrowding and demand for social housing the highest seen in 20 years."
Hackney is also where Economy's office is based. So we went out to ask people how they feel about living in London, what their experience of renting is, and how they think the housing crisis could be fixed.
"For people with jobs it’s easier to rent and get a place in London. But for the people that don’t have a job and don’t have any benefits coming to them, it’s extremely hard.
I was homeless, but I got a place in a hostel. I was so happy, it was like heaven. They’re shutting hostels down when they should be building more – I know people who are stuck on the streets for weeks, months, years. But we keep going, we keep striving in the hope that someday we’ll get somewhere. All you’ve got to do is have faith."
“I’m born and bred in this area, it’s like they’re pushing us out because we can’t afford it.
"I think the government should make housing more affordable for the people that are from these areas. I’m born and bred in this area and it’s like they’re pushing us out because we can’t afford it."
"If you’re on minimum wage you can’t afford to live round here. It’s not just rent. You have bills to pay, you have to travel to and from work – you’d end up working 60 hours a week just to afford basic things. But I don’t know how you’d change that. There’s not much space to build more – unless you start knocking down houses to build flats, but at the moment it feels like they’re knocking down tower blocks to build more tower blocks. It doesn’t seem like a good use of time."
“I rented for about a month, but it just wasn’t sustainable
"I live with my girlfriend’s mum. I rented for about a month, I was working 60 hours a week, and it wasn’t sustainable. I’m in a lucky situation, my girlfriend’s mum has right to buy on her flat. We’re going to pool our resources to buy it."
"My wife and I aren’t from London. We moved down here about eight or nine years ago, but I think we’re going to move away either this year or next year. We’re at the age where we need a bigger house and it’s just never going to happen here. My wife’s a primary school teacher and I work for the council. It’s never going to be realistic to afford that. We rent a two bed flat in Walthamstow. It’s quite small – no garden. We pay £1200 a month. I’ve been fairly lucky. We’ve had decent flats."
“We got a phone call and the bailiffs were there. The guy who owned the flat wasn’t paying his mortgage payments, he was just pocketing the rent. The flat got repossessed. We had to get all our stuff out within an hour.
"I once had a bad experience where I was staying with a friend. One day we just got a phone call and the bailiffs were there. The guy who owned the flat wasn’t paying his mortgage payments, he was just pocketing the rent. The flat got repossessed, but obviously no one knew because none of the letters were going to the tenants. We had to get all our stuff out within an hour."
"If you move into an apartment or a house or something you need to pay the rent. If you’re not getting benefits who’s going to pay the rent? It's your own responsibility, you have to get up off your arse and sort it out. But sometimes it doesn't work like that – people's money gets suspended, they get told they're fit for work and they're not."
“I lost my flat because someone was taking drugs in it, and he died. And I was evicted for antisocial behaviour. So now I’m stuck in a hostel.
"I used to have a two bedroom flat but now I live in a hostel. I know the apple. I lost my flat because someone was taking drugs in it, and he died. And I was evicted for antisocial behaviour. So now I’m stuck in a f*cking hostel. That’s the story, I’m going backwards rather than forwards. I’m just pissed off."
… most of us live in a home of friends, family, or with a partner. Our homes are like mini-economies, with their own systems of dividing up work, providing resources, and exchanging skill-sets. Not only do these affect our ideas of who does what on a wider scale, our homes themselves and where they’re located have an effect on the economy around us, and the economy we experience.