Ben Ffrench, Hull Road candidate: Why building Council Houses and Affordable Homes matters to me

Ben Ffrench in front of some council houses

The issue of having a good, settled and affordable home to live in has always mattered to me.

It’s impossible to ignore if you live in York: everything is so expensive, and local people often feel priced out.

It’s also about quality – in the Hull road area, I’ve heard awful stories of mould, and damp, and landlords that won’t pay the money to fix issues.

It’s very visible in the city centre as well- as a student, I used to go round trying to talk to those homeless and begging on the streets: many of whom had a ‘roof over their head’ but no stable home, and always a story to tell.

I ended up joining the amazing local housing navigator team on a 5am streetwalk through York- I would encourage anyone to do this, as it’s eye opening.

But particularly in Tang Hall/Hull Road area, there can be super expensive prices, which was rammed home to me when me and my wife were looking to rent our first flat.

My wife searched everywhere for somewhere to live: I’d said I wanted to live around Tang Hall (close to our community) but we initially found nothing and it was hard.

We found everything to be an unfair bidding war: where wealthier applicants could offer a full year’s rent up front and walk to the front of the queue.

It was only when a local estate agent took pity on us (after hearing of our endless rejections) that we made a breakthrough.

Obviously prices are pushed up by holiday lets and student accomodation- but it’s certainly not students’ fault, as they contribute a lot.

We need a fair balance of good quality local accommodation, but particularly council housing.

We can’t be ashamed of building good quality council housing and genuinely affordable homes (tied to local incomes)  for local residents- for me it would be a big priority! Especially for my generation.

For me it pays for itself – strengthening communities, as when people feel more secure in their homes, they can contribute more to their area. And it saves health budgets money and more. I get it’s all expensive, but it’s always a matter of priorities.

I know this has always been a big priority for the Green Party, nationally and locally too- homes that are sustainable, affordable and close to local schools, shops and GPs. The Greens in council in York started building state of the art ‘Passivhaus’ homes that broke ground nationally for their energy efficiency and high standards, such as the development on Burton Stone Lane.

That’s why if elected, I will push the council to make building council housing a bigger priority for their budget and housing delivery plan.

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