02 May 2014

Hacking Housing

By Lily

Over the last few years the “Housing Crisis” has become a ubiquitous catch all for a huge variety of issues facing anyone seeking, living in, maintaining or building housing.

A quick glance over housing news brings up headlines like “one in ten London households ‘overcrowded’ “, “soaring house prices are ‘unhealthy'”, “1.75 million families are poorer after benefit cuts”. All over the UK, the new welfare cuts are starting to bite, rent soars and 185,000 people have been reported homeless. There is a widening gap between wages and the cost of living. Meanwhile poor quality housing and lack of maintenance has led to fuel poverty affecting one in four households.

So what technology solutions are out there trying to tackle this?

  1. Finding a home – as social housing becomes more and more difficult to find, people are forced to deal with unscrupulous landlords and letting agents, that have very little interest in their tenants’ wellbeing. Disrupting this system is hard but there are a few ethical letting agents springing up which can hopefully make a difference such as Ethlet and Urban Patchwork. Know any others?
  2. Managing large scale housing communities: Housing associations are increasingly struggling to provide services as welfare cuts affect more and more of their tenants. Many of their systems are outdated and communication is difficult as many people still don’t have access to email and door to door help is hard to scale. There was some really interesting talking about these issues at Housing Camp last year.
  3. Sustainability: There are lots of interesting projects around helping people with fuel poverty, including open source programmable thermostatic radiator valves, solar panels on brixton roofs, energy monitoring tools and large scale community buying projects.

If all else fails, we can just 3D print them in China 🙂