It’s been a chequered hundred years for council house-building. With hindsight, the promise of safe, secure homes on a grand scale, heralded by the Addison Act in 1919, looks like something of a false start.
A century on, over 2,000 families in Brent are living in temporary accommodation and hundreds of thousands more are barely managing in expensive, insecure and poor quality private rentals.
Waiting up to 20 years for a permanent home is not uncommon. In these facts, Brent is not alone. The journey from Addison Act to social housing crisis now gripping the country is not an edifying one. Council housing has been dogged by stigma, poorly thought through schemes and inconsistent political will.
The Addison Act gave the go ahead for 500,000 council homes for soldiers and families following the first World War. In Brent, we’re marking this historic moment by joining forces with the Chartered Institute of Housing for an event celebrating a hundred years of council homes and the people who live in them.
The spirit of the Addison Act is alive and well in Brent, as we look forward to a new generation of council housing fit for the 21st century. Over 150 people have already moved into high quality council-built homes; many of which provide adaptations to meet the needs of our older and disabled residents.
We have ambitious plans to spark a renaissance in social housing, with a £300m programme to directly fund 1,000 new council homes over the next five years. This is part of our intention to make 5,000 affordable homes available over this period by working with our local partners.
A safe home is a place to create happy memories and a feeling of belonging. It also provides the stability without which everything in life – from employment to succeeding in education – becomes so much harder.
Over the past hundred years Brent has welcomed people from around the world: many of whom now call Brent home. In 2020, Brent has the honour of being London Borough of Culture. Much of the creative and cultural life we enjoy has its roots in the passions and heritage of people who live or grew up in Brent’s council homes.
That’s something to celebrate and, as we embark on a new era of council house building here in Brent, where better to start than by remembering the landmark legislation where it all began.