When talking to people on the doorstep, an issue that comes up time and again is housing. People throughout Bristol are concerned about the dramatically rising amount of homelessness in the city, and how it’s becoming increasingly hard to find a good quality home for the right price, regardless of whether you’re renting or buying.
On homelessness, we will maintain the Council’s current outreach support, but the key issue to address here is a lack of housing supply. Bristol, under the current Mayor, built four Council homes last year. Four! That’s atrocious, and we need to fix it. That’s why Marvin has announced that Bristol under his leadership will be building 2000 homes a year by 2020, 800 of which will be classed as affordable. We will work with developers, investors, housing associations, and charities to achieve this, and will establish a Council-owned housing company to see it through. This 2000 a year target may seem like some unrealistic aspiration, but construction and housing companies have already been keen to say that they think the challenge is achievable.
In addition to building homes, we need to combat the increasing issues with bad landlords in the city. Bishopston & Ashley Down has approximately 30% rented accommodation, above the Bristol average, and we’ve got a lot of student accommodation too (student houses tend to have worse quality than normal rented houses), so the matter is all the more important here. We’ve heard many horror stories of sky high rents, damp, mould, vermin, broken appliances/furnishings, a lack of contract security, unresponsive or even aggressive landlords, and more. There should therefore be a better effort to crack down on this kind of behaviour. In addition, we will extend the landlord registration scheme and work with ACORN, housing associations, the student unions and others to create a Bristol-wide Tenants’ Federation representing and supporting Bristol’s tenants.
At the other end of the spectrum, we should be rewarding and working with the many good landlords who do provide high quality, affordable housing. That’s why Labour will introduce a charter mark that promotes good landlords, based on security of tenure, quality of property and fair rent prices.
The final key policy pledge which Marvin has made is one of common, compassionate, sense that really requires no explanation: Labour will ensure victims of domestic violence and abuse are give a top priority for rehousing.
Whilst the housing issues in the city are immediate, these medium to long term measures will help to solve the problems at their roots, while we continue and expand the shorter term work that the Council does to help people who are homeless or dealing with bad accommodation/landlords.
P.S. Unrelated to Labour’s policies, but a group of UWE students (and Labour supporters) from Bishopston & Ashley Down have made this great video on housing in the city that’s well worth a watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HTewLeDBvU