Nik Butler: Phrases like ‘affordable housing’ should have us concerned.

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The idea that as a society we are comfortable with the use of the phrase ‘Affordable housing’ should indicate to each of us that we are already deep in financial and social trouble.

It is no secret that the cost of living in, or buying a house in, the District of Horsham is hardly an affordable exercise and I count myself as extremely fortunate, or possibly cursed, that I got onto the housing ladder when I did. Despite the current monthly payments on our mortgage are now the same as my monthly earnings of nearly twenty years ago.

The idea that as a community we are comfortable with phrases like ‘Affordable housing’ should have us more than a little concerned. We should be on alert for other phrases like ‘value eating’ or ‘needs based care’.

It is feature creep in acceptance in language and the conditioning of lower expectations which we should be pushing back on.

I fear that affordable housing may be a poor economy and one that builds a trap of expectation into planning and development; after all we do not see affordable housing consisting of 5 bedroom detached properties with large gardens and private drives.

In the case for Barns Green I see that an opportunity to improve the education and infrastructure of community was put on hold for the expectations of more ‘affordable housing’ I guess the underlying acceptance is that no matter the education or the success of our children there will be no salary on offer that will get them housed for the future.

The cost of home ownership and the presumed success of climbing up a ladder of ownership is predicated on the rather unbalanced assumption that house prices can continue to escalate upwards as wealth is created from debt and not productivity.

A more nuanced explanation of precisely how broken the mathematics of this system has become is available by watching ‘The Four Horsemen Film’.

What next for our society then if we assume affordable housing is our goal? Do we create affordable hospitals with affordable nurses. Create affordable education and protect our communities with affordable policing?

We have come to use the word affordable because it sounds better than cheap or budget.

We dont want to face up to the reality that the those who are targeted by such good intentions are victims of employers who can only provide affordable wages.