Here, Rosa Ellis (@RosaEllis) blogs for SHOUT about the importance of a stable home. As Housing finally looms large in the forthcoming General Election, it's easy to forget that at the end of all the sound-bites are people and their lives, where security and affordability are key factors in providing a foundation for them to flourish.
A few years ago I faced redundancy. I loved my job but out of the blue the organisation no longer loved me back. Or so it felt.
Less than a year earlier I had left a better-paid job to do this one because it was in a sector I cared more about: international development. Moving to a small charity during a recession, perhaps I should have known the risk, but when you’re young and offered your dream job you don’t say no.
The prospect of leaving the sector I’d only just got into and losing my livelihood was scary. It got even scarier two weeks later when my partner who I live with was also made redundant.
When things go wrong a stable housing situation can make all the difference.
I’m fortunate to live in housing association that charges fair rents, only increases them by a fixed amount each year, and is fair to people when their situations change dramatically. Others aren’t so lucky.
I’ve seen friends go through redundancy and exorbitant rent increases at the same time. And so often non-financial problems are made a million times worse by precarious living situations. It’s hard to deal with ill family members an expensive train ride away when all your money goes on rent. It’s difficult to end relationships that should be ended when it means finding somewhere new to live within a budget.
People are fragile; one in four of us will deal with a mental health problem each year, the most common issues being anxiety and depression. A Shelter poll earlier this year showed that over three million people are worried about paying their rent or mortgage. I think we’d be a lot less anxious as a nation if we had more stable housing.
When my partner and I both faced redundancy we didn’t crumble. But I’m no more resilient than the next person; I was at a huge advantage because I knew I wasn’t going to be packing my bags and relying on others for help.
When things go wrong, when relationships end, people die, money problems hit, a guaranteed place to live can provide that bit of stability that makes the difference between handling it or not. Those bricks, even if you don’t own them, become your rock.
Everyone deserves a stable living situation and housing associations provide that for thousands of people across the UK.
In an environment where some are suggesting that more of them should be sold off, social rented homes should be strengthened, We owe it to future generations to fight for them.