Housing associations in London are looking back to revolutionary post-World War I housebuilding efforts to say thank you to essential workers who are getting the country through the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Homes for Heroes campaign, launched today by The G15 – a group of the English capital’s biggest housing associations – is looking to build 100,000 new affordable modular homes across the country for essential workers.
Their plans echo efforts to house WWI veterans in 1918 when Prime Minister David Lloyd George gave a speech in which he promised “homes fit for heroes” and vowed “to make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in”.
Building the high quality, affordable social homes the country needs is the only way to both support the economy and ensure that everyone has access to safe, stable housing – government must place this at the heart of its plans for recovery.
— Shelter (@Shelter) May 12, 2020
That laid the foundations for the ambitious Housing Act 1919 – better known as the Addison Act – which played a vital role in the council house revolution in the post-war years.
The G15 want to do the same for NHS staff, care workers, teachers, refuse collectors, delivery workers and more on the lowest incomes with well-designed, energy efficient and digitally connected affordable homes.
The group insist they “stand ready to deliver” the homes but urged the Government, private sector, local councils and health trusts to team up with them to scale up efforts.
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The housing associations say they need a programme of public and corporate giving, innovative use of public land, planning flexibilities and an expansion in manufacturing capacity to build high-tech homes in factories to make a dent in the UK’s housing crisis.
The G15 is already housing many thousands of essential workers. Social housing is home to one third of London’s police officers and ambulance staff, and one third of workers in care-related jobs and their Homes for Heroes campaign aims to make room for thousands more.
In a post Covid-19 crisis environment, the speed of delivery will be more important than ever before
“Essential workers on the frontline of this crisis are often among the lowest paid in society,” said Helen Evans, Chair of the G15 and Chief Executive of Network Homes. “Homes for Heroes is about giving these people a safe, secure and genuinely affordable home to live in.
“With the collaboration of government and the housing sector, both private and social, we should bring forward a once-in-a-generation number of new homes for our essential workers, including those not eligible for traditional key-worker housing. Homes should be well designed, with private outdoor space, in convenient well-connected locations for healthcare facilities, schools and other employment hubs.”
Rosie Toogood, CEO Legal and General Modular Homes, added: “Modular construction will enable the delivery of high quality homes at a much faster rate than through traditional construction. In a post Covid-19 crisis environment, the speed of delivery will be more important than ever before.
“The Homes for Heroes campaign unites several great causes: creating quality homes for genuine heroes, powering innovation and skills right at the time we need to create jobs, and pushing the bar upwards when it comes quality and sustainability. We’re delighted to support this initiative.”