Working to address the housing crisis
One Kent-based housing association helping to tackle the shortage of homes in this part of the country is mhs homes, which is expanding into new areas and forging new partnerships as it pursues it’s ultimate ambition to “help end the housing crisis locally”.
The Parker family is just one of those that has benefited from the association’s drive after moving into one of the first properties built by mhs homes at Ebbsfleet Garden City.
Carly and John Parker, together with children Jacob and Robyn, had been living in a one-bedroomed social housing flat in Deptford, South East London and could see little chance of being allocated a more suitable home in that part of the world.
“I lived there on my own when I was quite young, but over time my family has grown, and there were four of us living in a one-bedroomed place. We’d been on the register for more than two years to try to find more space,” Carly recalled.
But with Lewisham Council confirming that as recently as April 2019 there were more than 10,000 people on the housing waiting list in the area – which includes Deptford – the family looked set for a lengthy wait.
With little chance of being able to move within the social housing sector, the family looked at private rent, but as Carly explained: “To get a two or three-bed home on the private rented market in London you’re looking at so much money. And it seemed impossible to buy in London, too, because it’s so expensive”.
It was then that the family spotted the opportunity to move out of London and take on a shared ownership property in Ebbsfleet, the first of an initial batch of 14 to have been built by mhs homes in the new garden city. They researched and registered their interest with mhs homes’ sales agent Red Loft.
“Red Loft provided us with recommendations for a solicitor and mortgage broker and chased things up for us so that we could move into our home as quickly as possible”, said Carly.
Those 14 homes at The Claygate Collection are amongst 96 properties that mhs homes are building. They’re part of the 900 home flagship scheme being built by Redrow at Ebbsfleet Garden City.
Shared ownership, which involves taking out a mortgage on an agreed share of the property while continuing to pay rent on the rest, proved to be a realistically affordable way for the Parker family to buy their own home. In their case they bought a 40 per cent share.
Moving out of London gave them more space and more for their money – plus the knowledge that they already own a share of their house and will be able to buy more as their circumstances change – known as staircasing. “It’s definitely cheaper here and this place is actually ours,” commented Carly.
The family moved into their two-bedroom apartment at the start of April, and though they’re still unpacking, it already feels like home. As Carly explained: “it’ll be peace of mind knowing there’ll be a school and doctors nearby. We’ve moved in when everything in the Ebbsfleet area is up and coming; it’s really exciting. It’ll be like a little village in a sense.”
And while Carly has moved out of the city, she’s no further away from her central London workplace than she was before. “It takes maybe an hour for me to get to work – which is mad because when I was living in London it would still take me an hour – and now I’ve got all this extra space,” she said.
Thirty-year-old Carly works for Thames Reach and is working to help support people in Brixton and Lambeth with mental health issues. Thames Reach's mission is to assist homeless and vulnerable men and women to find decent homes, build supportive relationships and lead fulfilling lives.
“I work with people who have issues with mental health. One of the big things I see is that a lot of people don’t have suitable housing, which causes all sorts of problems, rent arrears etc. It’s definitely a good thing that housing associations like mhs are trying to build more, we definitely need more homes.”
“The housing crisis in the UK is particularly acute in the south east. We have a responsibility to help reduce poverty and help those in housing need, which is why our ultimate ambition is to help end the housing crisis in north Kent.
“We’re delighted that the Parker family are settling in so well and look forward to helping more families find a safe and secure home in the future” said Operations Director Stephanie Goad.
The remaining properties that mhs homes are providing at Ebbsfleet Garden City are being released in phases throughout the year. They include affordable rent homes and more available through shared ownership.