You and your empty buildings are key to easing the housing crisis

We hear the words ‘broken housing market’ bandied around with a kind of flippancy that undermines the severity of the reality. And, whilst we at Dot Dot Dot have always understood the economic and social benefits of property guardianship, it may have been seen by many as a neat solution to a niche problem.

The problem of the broken housing market is no longer niche. Every single one of us is affected by the worsening housing crisis, directly or indirectly. For those worst off, the lack of affordable housing means homelessness — which is on the rise rather than the wane. For others it means living in unsafe temporary housing, far from loved ones and with no agency to improve our situation. For some it means a big financial hit and a decrease in our quality of life due to spiralling rents. For all of us it means our schools, hospitals and other public services are dangerously compromised by the lack of affordable homes for their staff.

Wherever we fall on this sliding scale of undesirable to absolutely awful, we can agree that the cost of inaction is rising, and that the creation of safe and sustainable housing solutions must be a priority in order for society to remain functional.

In London, however, where the issue is even more pronounced, it seems that attempts to tackle the issue will be gravely inadequate. The availability of new affordable homes in the capital is set to drop by 76% this financial year (as recently announced by several housing associations), and yet mayoral pledges only propose moderate rent controls and the provision of 6,000 new affordable homes.

While protest groups such as Housing Rebellion and charities like Crisis propose practical and robust solutions, they are not in positions of capability to make change happen. It is a truly overwhelming situation, and one that will require collaborative action by many disparate parties in order to be solved.

In complex situations such as this, however, we must seek out the certainties. While no single party can solve the housing crisis for everyone, we can play a part in giving people the opportunity to be housed more cheaply, and bring about some of the positive community impact that’s so needed.

In practical terms, there are meaningful changes that can be made and an abundance of resources that can be deployed:

  • We know that there are around a quarter of a million empty buildings across the country which we at Dot Dot Dot can efficiently repurpose into temporary housing, with minimal labour or costs for the property owner.
  • We know that occupied properties are at lower risk of damage, vandalism, fire and squatting, and that guardianship is a more economical solution than hard security measures.
  • We know that property guardianship brings positive change not only for those who inhabit these safe, warm and inexpensive homes, but also for the communities in which these buildings stand, as all of our guardians are committed to volunteering for local causes.

So whilst the story may feel hopeless, we must not give in to apathy, especially when a key solution to the problem may be right at our fingertips. Think about how your empty properties could ease the housing crisis, and let us help you make a real difference.