Rural affordable housing holds communities together
Last week the Rural Housing Enablers helped deliver two events in Hampshire to promote rural affordable housing week.
The events promoted the work of Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing (HARAH), which provides new affordable housing schemes to help meet the needs of local people struggling to remain or work in their village.
Delegates were told that the average working person in Hampshire villages would need a 150% pay rise in order to buy a local home.
Rural house prices are around 26% higher than those in our cities, but rural workers earn around £7,000 less than their urban counterparts each year. Many people on average incomes in rural Hampshire are priced out of the local housing market. A change of circumstance like loss of a job or divorce can mean that they can no longer afford their existing home and cannot afford to rent locally or pay a mortgage. The result is often being forced to leave their families and communities. This rural housing affordability crisis has contributed to the breakup of rural communities and the closure of many rural local services.
HARAH (Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing) is a partnership of 7 rural Hampshire councils, the 2 national parks, 5 rural housing associations and the charity Action Hampshire. Since 2005 the partners have worked together to build over 400 affordable homes housing over 1400 people in villages across the county, 99% of whom already lived or worked in the village, or had close family there.
The event showed that providing these schemes can help the survival of vital community assets and services, such as schools, post offices and pubs.
Celebrating rural housing week is important as it gives the opportunity to raise awareness of the issue nationally and locally. Councillors and village representatives get a chance to see first- hand how affordable housing in rural villages can look and work in practice and to talk to people involved in developing established schemes, with a view to undertaking a scheme in their own parish. Participants can see with sensitive design and management, rural affordable homes can remain an asset to the community year after year.