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Social housing tenants fear being displaced as house values skyrocket

OctaviaLong-established social housing tenants living in some of the wealthiest areas of inner London fear the city’s escalating house prices could push them out of the areas they have lived in for generations.

The gentrification of their boroughs, rising living costs and changing communities are troubling low-income residents, according to an LSE report released today.

The London School of Economics and Political Science report, commissioned by Octavia Housing, documents how social housing tenants feel about living in Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea.

The changing face of their neighbourhoods is fuelling their fears about the impact of welfare reforms, public spending cuts and job losses.

LSE’s findings endorse the social value of mixing high and low-income residents in expensive neighbourhoods, but also expose tenants’ fears for the future.

Report author Professor Anne Power from LSE Housing and Communities explains:

“The tenants benefit from good schools, transport, parks and amenities and their children therefore aspire to a better life. However, some feel hostile to the rapid gentrification occurring in their neighbourhoods.

“House values are skyrocketing in London, leading to overcrowding and placing additional pressures on tenants. This includes pressure on landlords to sell housing stock located in expensive boroughs to allow more houses to be built in low-cost areas,” Professor Power says.

Octavia-horizontal“It is clear from our research that despite the challenges currently facing low-income tenants in expensive boroughs, the benefits to society from sustaining a social mix in high-cost areas are immense. These benefits justify the cost of owning and subsidising rented property in these areas,” Professor Power says.

Grahame Hindes, Chief Executive of Octavia said:

“This report highlights how social housing in all parts of London contributes to a socially inclusive society. There are parts of inner London now that are almost deserted at weekends because of the changing nature of the housing market. We believe central London is stronger for having people with a mix of incomes and not solely those with financial wealth.”

The report, titled Divided City? The value of mixed communities in expensive neighbourhoods, is available at http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/LSEhousing/default.asp

Notes for editors

About the Report:

The paper’s authors are: Professor Anne Power, Professor of Social Policy; Katie Bates, Laura Lane and Nicole Serle (all from LSE Housing and Communities).

Octavia Housing commissioned LSE Housing and Communities in 2011 to interview 50 Octavia tenants across different types of neighbourhoods and housing type in Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster to uncover their experience of living in what have become extremely high-cost areas.

Interviewees reflected the population of Octavia tenants as a whole  – different ages and ethnic origins, in and out of work, with and without children, living in different types of housing, for varied lengths of time, although invariably over ten years.   Some of the tenants were revisited a year later in late 2012 and early 2013 to find out how welfare reforms, the cuts in funding and services, and wider economic problems are affecting low income tenants in mixed communities.

About the LSE:

LSE Housing and Communities is a research and consultancy group within the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the London School of Economics led by Professor Anne Power. CASE is a multi-disciplinary research centre which focuses on the exploration of different dimensions of social disadvantage, particularly disadvantage from longitudinal and neighbourhood perspectives. It examines the impact of public policy on individuals, communities and areas.  LSE Housing and Communities is also associated with the School’s Department of Social Policy. 

About Octavia Housing:

Octavia is founded upon the principle that good housing and mixed communities matter. Originally founded by Octavia Hill who worked with the poor of London over 145 years ago and was a co-founder of the National Trust. Today the most prominent activity of the organisation is providing and managing a portfolio of good quality affordable housing in inner London, the most expensive part of the country.

Wednesday 10 July, 2013