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Discovering the true meaning of 'affordable' housing

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  • L000 Social Sciences
  • Economics
  • Linguistics


Discovering the True Meaning of ‘Affordable Housing’ Discovering the True Meaning of ‘Affordable Housing’ Peter Ambrose Visiting Professor in Housing and Health University of Brighton Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9PH Tel: 01273 643914 [email protected] March 2010 Dedicated to the memory of Alan Walter for all he did for the cause The phrase ‘affordable housing’ is used constantly in Government-speak. All official documents about housing need use these words and politicians seek to win votes on the degree to which they manage to get ‘affordable’ elements into private sector housing developments by means of planning agreements. The term is therefore central to the housing debate. But while it is loosely understood to mean any housing that is made available at less than full market value it remains undefined in terms of any monetary value – and many households have found that ‘affordable housing’ is not remotely affordable for them. In the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust Memorandum to the Prime Minister on Unaffordable Housing (May 2005 – see a clear definition of ‘affordable’ was set out as follows: ‘Affordable housing’ means that once the cost of rent or mortgage (including any maintenance and service charges) and local and national taxes have been met from the income of a household, be it an individual, a family or pensioners, there remains sufficient income to sustain safe and healthy living, to support children’s needs at school and to enable provision for the future and participation in the community. ‘Unaffordable housing’ means that the remaining income is not sufficient to ensure these outcomes. When this definition was offered to the Chair of the ODPM Enquiry into Affordability and the Supply of Housing early in 2006 she responded that the difference between this and the official definition was simply a matter of semantics! The Z2K definition remained uncalibrated until it was realised early in 2008 that the Minimum Income Standards (MIS

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