Assessing Housing Need
The extent of housing need in rural communities can go unrecognised by the local authority – who have the statutory responsibility for housing and make decisions about the locations where public investment in affordable housing is made. This is sometimes due to the use of council house waiting lists to measure demand for affordable housing. These underestimate rural housing need because people with housing needs may believe there is no point joining the waiting list if there is no council housing in their community or just a few left after right to buy, which are not often re-let. Council wide surveys of housing need also underestimate rural need as they do not analyse data at a small enough scale to identify pockets within otherwise affluent areas.
There is often substantial anecdotal evidence locally of housing needs but it is essential to undertake some local research to measure housing need to help develop the most appropriate response, to influence the allocation of housing investment and building by a housing association or council, or to demonstrate the viability of a community housing project to potential funders.
A housing need survey provides an assessment of what kind of housing need is required in the community; whether it is rented or low cost ownership housing, whether this is needed by families, older people, single people or disabled people and what size of housing is required. A survey can also measure what rent or mortgages are affordable to local people, the condition of housing in the area and whether there are people who have left the community who might wish to return.
✓ What kind of affordable housing provision is needed?
✓ Is there local anecdotal information about people in need of affordable housing?
✓ Is there a current housing needs survey with up to date information?
✓ Is there other information available about housing need, such as, waiting lists from council or housing associations or the Council Housing Needs & Demand Assessment (HNDA) or Local Housing Strategy?
✓ What is the demographic situation? Are there many 10-20 year old children who might want to live independently or are there a lot of 60+ who might need smaller or adapted housing in the near future?
✓ Is a housing needs survey necessary or is there enough evidence of housing need? The Rural Housing Service (RHS) can do a survey with support from the local community.
✓ Is a drop-in event/ surgery to provide information on housing required? The RHS can help organise this to find out peoples need and views. They can also help to contact landowners.
✓ Have an open meeting for the Housing Needs Survey report to be presented back to the community. A survey normally takes two to three months to complete.
- Decide together with the RHS what the best approach is to assess local needs.