The housing crisis is now a national emergency.
Shelter was founded 52 years ago, not by the wealthy or powerful, but as a community organisation whose purpose was to change society. That means we’re needed more now than at any time in our history: for millions of our fellow citizens the fundamental human need for a safe home is ignored.
Forget finding who’s to blame for this. Shelter is here to do far more than just point out what’s gone wrong. We are here to put it right, and that’s why our aim is for this strategy to be nothing less than a turning point for both Shelter and our country.
Without a home, no one can achieve their full potential. With millions whose right to a home is under threat, neither can the country. We believe that because the need for a home is so all-consuming, a home is a basic moral right, and everything we will do from now will be done to defend that right.
We’ve all talked so much about the ‘housing crisis’ that we’ve stopped believing it can be solved. The phrase has become like wallpaper. But this is a national emergency, and one that demands fearless, ambitious action.
In developing this strategy, it’s been vital to start with our own people: those who rely on our services, our volunteers, our employees. We aim to rebuild a movement, stronger than ever, and a movement must start with a simple idea that unites everyone within Shelter, our best advocates. Change starts here, in our work with individuals, spreading through communities, and across society.
We identify in this strategy six million households whose right to a home is either denied or under threat at this very moment. Soaring rents that squeeze out food and clothing, being thrown out of your home through no fault of your own, simply being too poor to afford a home: the terror of homelessness is everywhere.
Many are living in grossly unfit and unsafe conditions, adults and children whose lives are blighted by fear and despair. Discrimination is rampant in private renting and we have lost sight of the simple fact that we need a home just as much as we need healthcare and education. We are building the fewest social homes in 70 years, at a time when more and more people desperately need them.
In Shelter’s services, our people work tirelessly to alleviate the sheer destitution they see day in and day out. We will be a rock in the storm every day for those who need us. But our aim is bigger – to cut this suffering off at source – and we acknowledge in this strategy that we can’t do it overnight, neither can we do it alone.
For the first time, Shelter is committing in this strategy to ten-year goals as well as three-year goals so we can be confident of building to the necessary changes over the next decade. And at the same time we commit in this strategy to building the movement of people who will make this change possible.
We plan in the next three years to have 500,000 supporters join us in our mission to respond to this emergency, through campaigning, volunteering and donating. It is people that can power the change we seek.
This national emergency has been decades in the making. Now is the moment to act together with one purpose. In the community, our hubs and shops will be magnets for everyone with a role in ending the national emergency. Nationally, we will work with everyone who sees the desperate need for change: no one group or party is to blame for the emergency, and no one group or party can end it either.
Shelter: it’s a fundamental need and a basic moral right. Please join us to defend it.
Polly Neate, Chief Executive
Helen Baker, Chair