Letter from Councillor Peter Gruen to the Yorkshire Evening Post on Housing 

Too many young people are unable to get onto the housing ladder to get the necessary loans for their first home or to get off the very lengthy Council registers and into a home at an affordable rent. 
The Government says it wants to encourage the building of 200000 houses per year. However I argue that words alone have never built anything; it’s actions we need. 
Councils like Leeds want to lead this housing revolution by building new Council homes for young people to rent and use our brownfield areas to build homes, so that people can afford to put down a deposit and get a decent mortgage.
The letter below points up some of the real issues, it would be great to have a debate about this.

Sir
I have followed your debate regarding the ‘Housing crisis’ over recent days. Credit where it’s due- thank you for giving ‘air time’ to what undoubtedly IS a crisis.
Simply put, we are not building enough homes for people, who are desperate to find a roof over their heads. We have not built enough homes for far too long. Why not? Certainly here in Leeds we have tried for the past five years. We have set up an ambitious multi million pound Housing Growth programme, we are leading the way with bringing back into use many hundreds of empty properties, the Little London, Beeston and Holbeck PFI project would not be happening but for our financial support, and we are moving ahead with future allocations for housing.
But your summit missed one essential truth- the elephant in the room is the Government. First they instructed the banks to exclusively concentrate on building up their monetary base and by doing so raised the barrier so that people who could afford a sensible mortgage, could not put down excessive deposits. Then we had -and still do -the distractions of blaming everything apart from building homes; so it’s the Planning system that’s too slow, not enough brown field land is being released- when Government itself sits on vast areas of non-used land, we’ve had numerous financial gimmicks on the supply side and Goodness me then we come to ‘Right to buy’! This of course totally undermines the principle of social housing as a legitimate alternative provision in the market place. So publicly funded new or improved housing has to be sold off with massive discounts and without adequate compensation to Councils to build more new affordable homes.
Let’s get real. If we want to arrest the crisis we need to invest proper money to build new homes and we want them to be in line with our ‘Leeds Standard’, which I introduced 12 months ago- adequate space, energy efficient, attractively designed and fitting the neighbourhood, environmentally friendly, life time accessibility and a mix of types to cater for families and single people. 
Surely, as we stand on the threshold of building many new homes, this is not too much to ask for ?
Councillor Peter Gruen,

Councillor for Crossgates & Whinmoor 

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