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Housing crisis: Teacher living in a tent

Warnings that professionals on £50k-a-year are having to live in shared flats due to shortage

08 May, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Labour councillor Julian Fulbrook speaking at an election hustings in Holborn

A TEACHER lived in a tent pitched in an open garden square because he could not afford anywhere to live close to the school where he worked.

The startling case was revealed during an election hustings in Holborn and amid appeals for more genuinely affordable housing to be provided for key workers.

Julian Fulbrook, a Labour councillor, said: “We have a teacher who couldn’t find anywhere to live in the local area in the last few weeks before the end of term and had to take to a tent. There are lots of terrible stories. We need a co-ordinated approach because the number one issue is housing. We have some massive problems.”

The teacher, who has not been named, has since been found temporary accommodation.

But Mr Fulbrook said that the housing market could not be allowed to run unregulated and said hundreds of homes in the area, including 500 former council homes lost to right-to-buy, were more commonly used for Airbnb holiday lets.

He added that Camden Council was trying to provide new “living rent” homes for people struggling to find properties with affordable bills.

But John Mason for the Green Party told the hustings, organised by the Holborn Voice website at the Rugby Tavern last Wednesday: “Flats that are supposed to be for teachers, that are supposed to be for doctors are being rented out at £2,000 a month. How is that affordable? That’s what the company which the council has given land to build ‘living rent’ homes is charging.”

Conservative candidate Richard Merrin argued against a rent cap, telling the audience: “Everywhere it has been implemented in the world it has ended in unmitigated disaster.”

He added: “I look at the people who work for me: the 33-year-old who is on £50k a year and she’s sharing a flat with three other people, so there’s a housing problem even for people at the higher end. There is an unsustainable, systemic, problem and all parties have got to come together to sort it out.”

But Mr Merrin warned that Holborn was “landlocked” with “no viable place to start building homes”.

Liberal Democrat candidate Andrew Naughtie said Airbnb was not only used by developers, and was useful for people with no other assets or savings. “The market has been allowed to run riot since the 1980s. People will be doing it whether you regulate it or not,” he said.

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