One of the saddest things about being an MP are the emails and messages from desperate parents or grandparents about housing problems.
They often describe homelessness or awful accommodation and its impact on mental health or illnesses suffered by children. I write to the council who tell me where that person is on the waiting list and their number of housing points. It’s usually not enough for them to secure a property.
One political office that can really influence housing, is the West Midlands Mayor. The current Tory incumbent claims to have delivered 16,500 new homes last year which sounds impressive until you consider that the population of the Combined Authority is around three million. His Labour opponent argues that the Mayor’s actually built 19 per cent fewer affordable homes and what’s needed is something akin to the Mayoral Development Corporation set up by Greater Manchester’s Mayor, Andy Burnham.
I fancy the idea of May’s mayoral election being dominated by demands for family homes. Building affordable homes is vital but so is the question of converting existing homes to Houses of Multiple Occupation. Five years ago, I introduced a Bill to restrict such conversions.
The Government ignored it, as they have so far ignored my efforts to tackle supported accommodation. I’m concerned at the way greedy developers destroy family homes to hoover up profits.
In Selly Oak, students are their target. More recently what’s known as Exempt Accommodation, supposedly supported accommodation for vulnerable people, has given fresh impetus to this problem. Government foots the bills with few questions asked thus making it a very lucrative activity. Consequently, it’s spreading like wildfire.
I’m currently dealing with a situation in Brandwood Road and have also heard reports of problems in Capcroft Road, Taylor Road and Yardley Wood Road, in Billesley.
This destruction of family homes creates anti-social behaviour, ruins residential areas and deprives families of homes. I want the Mayor and Government to build many more affordable homes and put an end to the destruction of those we already have.