More than 90,000 homes need to be built in the South East every year to solve the housing crisis, according to a new report from the National Housing Federation (NHF).
Around 30,000 homes were built last year in the South East, less than a third of the 90,179 homes the region needs annually, the NHF has said.
The organisation — which represents housing associations in England, and Crisis, the national homelessness charity — said the 'dire' housing shortage is leaving thousands of people unable to buy their own home or find a stable home in the private rented sector, and is even pushing people into homelessness.
Dave Smith, External Affairs Manager at the National Housing Federation, said: “This research highlights the key reason why prices in the South East have hit such astronomical levels. There are far too few homes being built, particularly affordable homes – we must dramatically increase the number being built if we are serious about solving the housing crisis.
“The Government has already promised more money for affordable housing, but it will take time for this to make an impact. In the meantime, ministers should take steps to address the biggest challenge that housing associations and others face: the high cost of land. This is the single biggest barrier to building the 90,000 homes we need in the region every year.
“The housing crisis is the most serious issue facing the South East, and we must act now to solve it – doing nothing is no longer an option.”
According to the research, of the 38,000 affordable homes needed every year, roughly: 26,200 should be for social rent; 5,300 should be for intermediate affordable rent and 6,500 should be for shared ownership.
The NHF said the shortfall of affordable homes across the South East, is having a serious impact and said that its report reveals that less than half of people under the age of 40 living in the South East can afford to buy a home.
The National Housing Federation and Crisis are calling on the government to invest in the homes that the country urgently needs, especially homes for social rent, to ensure that people on the lowest incomes have somewhere secure and stable to live.
It has said that the Government must also take steps to make land more affordable. At least half of homes built on public land should be affordable for people on the lowest incomes, and ministers should make land cheaper for organisations that want to build affordable housing.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “It’s heartbreaking that in this winter weather thousands of people across the South East have to sleep on our streets, stay in tents, live in hostels, and experience other forms of homelessness. Many people are stuck in these terrible and often dangerous situations simply because there isn't enough affordable housing, particularly social housing.
“Christmas is around the corner, and this can be a particularly hard time for homeless people. While others are celebrating with family and friends, many homeless people face a daily struggle just to stay safe, escape the cold, and feel connected to others. This is all the worse when there are proven solutions that can end homelessness for good.
"This is can't go on - the government must build housing that people who are homeless or on low incomes can afford and access, because we all deserve a safe place to call home."