Homelessness in Milton Keynes

28 July 2019

According to a recent article in the Guardian, the number of young people (aged 20 to 34) who are living with their parents has risen over 6% from 1997 to 2017. That might not seem like much on paper, but the reality is that there are now 3.4 million people living at home.

This article, led by think tank Civitas, has highlighted that there is little being done for young people during Britain’s housing crisis. It’s been a well-known fact for a while now that young people in this age bracket (Millennials, especially) are unable to get on the property ladder. Today, on the wages that many young people are offered, it would take years to save up enough to put a deposit down on a small home, let alone pay off the mortgage each month.

These 3.4 million young people cannot afford to move out. Many may have set off for University, and then returned at the end of their studies without somewhere to stay or the money to do so. Young people are finding it more difficult to move out from their family’s home, and if they do, they’re living with friends or large groups of people. It’s cheaper to rent a room in a house, than have your own place.

Living with your parents makes your social life difficult to sustain, but many young people don’t have a choice in the matter. Because after months without a stable job, and no nearby friends to move in with, it’s either moving back home or risk homelessness. Shelter has found that we would need 3 million new social homes in the next two decades for young people and young families to thrive properly.

But because of how the government calculates the number of houses they need, it’s unlikely this number of homes will be built. The ONS looks at the average household sizes over long periods of time and calculates how many people are living together during these periods. In 2017, 2.39 people were living together; this being the highest number of people in the same household since 1999. Unfortunately, this number fails to take into account the number of young people aged 20 – 34 who have had to cease living alone or moving out of family homes.

Chief executive of Shelter, Polly Neate, has said that the decades of failed housing policy have caused the struggle for young people and families on low incomes being unable to find housing. Without charities like Shelter, or YMCA, many more young people would be without somewhere to stay and at risk of homelessness. YMCA, alone, provides homes to more than 18,000 people across England and Wales and in Milton Keynes, we’ve supported over 10,000 young people since we first opened our doors in 1981.

Though the article in The Guardian does highlight the statistics of housing, it does not show more than the bear minimum of the link between young people and homelessness. The article’s main features are the government’s current plans and showing the number of young people currently living at home rather than in their own properties. But the situation is so much worse than that.

In Milton Keynes, the situation has been put into perspective. MK Council released a Strategic Housing Market Assessment in February 2017, which showed several concerning statistics regarding the state of housing in the area. Over the last five years, rent prices have increased in Milton Keynes more than in any other national average. Almost 10% of all houses are overcrowded, they’re some of the most expensive to buy on the market, and less affordable to live in than many other cities in the UK.

Thankfully, YMCA MK is trying to target the issue. In early 2020, a new YMCA MK campus will open with 199 rooms, split into three stages, and support to help young people who need affordable accommodation and may be at risk of homelessness.

Stage 1 of the new YMCA MK campus will help residents learn independent skills such as cooking, personal hygiene and budgeting, while stage 2 will support the well-being of their residence by addressing their confidence and self-esteem issues and will begin to look at employment opportunities. Stage 3 is all about independence, where residents will have their own flat (a studio or 1-bedroom). These flats will be affordable for the area, and not dissimilar to prices expected from student accommodation. With support from YMCA MK, young people should be employed by the time they are given their own residence.

With this new pathway of support, YMCA MK aims to provide full support to any person of need that enters their campus; building them up until they can thrive by themselves, despite the current housing crisis.