A week in housing

Much-admired politician Esther McVey made some stunning revelations at this week’s Conservative Party Conference.

The housing secretary revealed that computers are now so advanced that people are using them to design houses! The audience gasped as she further outlined so-called “3D” capabilities that have recently emerged. It is thought the common method of using oils to designing houses (see main pic) may be under threat.

In deep conversation with fellow conservatives, Nadhim Zahawi and Jake Berry, the MP said: "Well, if we have this new way of doing it, 3D architects... 3D visionaries... doing it with it on a computer.”

In response, a spokesperson for the British Computer Council urged the public to remain calm and manage their expectations. 

You can watch it here (and as a bonus, the video also features Andrea Leadsom. Happy Friday!)

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Well, that was a bit of silly fun, wasn’t it? Now for something deeply unpleasant.

According to new research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, families on housing benefit are priced out of almost every British home to rent.

The bureau says that local authorities have been encouraging people facing or experiencing homelessness to renting privately - rather than wait for a council house.

The only problem with this otherwise brilliant idea is that only 1 in 20 of two-bed properties are affordable, according to the bureau’s research.  

And in some places, the researchers found almost no affordable two-bed flats for rent: York had seven, Bristol three, and Cardiff two.

Making matters worse, the bureau found that even affordable homes are unattainable because most landlords won’t let to people on benefits!

Read the whole, troubling thing here.

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Portugal has adopted a new law that says the state must guarantee housing as a human right, while public housing policies must follow the principles of universality and citizen participation. 

Under the new rules, evictions of vulnerable people are forbidden unless the state can provide suitable alternative accommodation

The Basic Housing Law, as it is called, came into force following the recommendation of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha, who recently went on a fact-finding visit to the country.

And she’s very pleased: “I am pleased that in keeping with international human rights obligations, the law targets those in particular need of adequate housing including families with children, youth, persons with disabilities and the elderly.”

I wonder what would happen if the UN sent someone over to the UK for a look around? Wait! They actually did that: last year, special rapporteur Philip Alston concluded that the UK government is “mean-spirited and callous”, that 14 million people are “poor”, and that fiasco-haunted Universal Credit really wasn’t helping things at all.

Reacting, ministers and the media took the report seriously and immedicably set out to address the issues. Actually, they didn’t.

Then work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd dismissed the report and called it “disappointing”, and then lodged a complaint with the UN. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail referred to Alston as “controversial” and, for some reason, published lots of photos of a house he owns.

And on it goes, forever.

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In excellent planet-protecting news, a housing association has launched an electric car-sharing programme!

Caledonia Housing Association‘s scheme, which will run in Muirton, Perth, offers free membership charge for a limited period and residents have been given £25 of free driving credit.

The initiative was made possible through community benefit contributions by the developer for the Muirton Park regeneration, Urban Union.

The launch event, on Friday, saw Caledonia’s electric car arrive in Muirton with local Muirton and Perth residents given the opportunity to see the car and sign up as Co-wheels car club members.

Cars are available for booking for as little as 30 minutes up to days at a time, and members only pay for the hire time and distance driven. At the end of a booking, the vehicle returned to its charging bay in Muirton.

Julie Cosgrove, Caledonia Housing Association chief executive, said: “We are delighted to be able to launch this initiative in Muirton and hope both Muirton residents, and the wider Perth community, reap the benefit of this great initiative.”

On Twitter, carbon emission fans, probably, said: “We hope this scheme fails miserably and all involved in it suffer.”