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Housing and life experiences: making a home on a low income

Urban skyline in the United Kingdom

New research supports calls to increase the supply of secure social rented housing. Photo: MikesPhotos / Pixabay.

This is the first UK study to provide a detailed qualitative longitudinal analysis of the interaction between poverty and housing over lifetimes. The report shows that good and stable housing can mitigate poverty and support life transitions.

Alison Dyke / Published on 30 April 2018

Croucher, K., Quilgars D. and Dyke, A. (2018). Housing and Life Experiences: Making a Home on a Low Income. Joseph Rowntree Foundation. York.

The report also documents the painful reality of negotiating an increasingly expensive and constrained housing system. It finds that:

  • Current housing systems, and the linked welfare systems, respond poorly to life events such as relationship breakdown and the onset of poor health.
  • Social rented housing at its best provides a secure tenancy in decent housing at an affordable rent, but its potential is undermined by lack of supply, some poor neighbourhoods, and properties which are let in a poor state of decoration and repair.
  • For those on low incomes who are only able to access the lower end of the private rented sector, high housing costs, poor quality housing and/or the precariousness of tenancies, undermine the creation of a home.
  • The extended family (and to a lesser extent, other wider social networks) play a central role in supporting people to make and keep a home.

The study supports the call for increasing the supply of social rented housing, rolling back time-limited tenancies and offering more support to tenants to make and sustain a home.

Future policy needs to better address complex lives and life events, shifting focus from the provision of housing to the provision of homes that can offer people some degree of certainty, control, and protection.

SEI author

Alison Dyke

Research Fellow

SEI York

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