The inequality between men and women has, once again, been highlighted by Showhouse. New data uncovered that women need over 12 times their annual salaries to be able to buy a home in England. This is compared to eight times for men. The disproportion in affordability is also stressed by the data that reveals average rents take 43% of women’s median earnings and 28% of men’s. This proves housing is unaffordable for women.
So what can we do as architects?
We can design affordable, sustainable and suitable houses. Due to women’s lower incomes their ability to afford suitable housing is diminished. Affordable housing is paramount in ensuring that women secure a suitable home for themselves and their children. Although, men and women tend to buy or rent their homes as a couple, women are most vulnerable if that relationship breaks down. The report author, Dr Sara Reis, said: “Housing is one of the most urgent public policy issues in the UK with large number of people pushed into poverty by housing costs or unable to afford to rent or buy. But our report shows that this crisis of housing affordability is far worse for women than for men’’.
The cost of running a home needs to be of utmost importance too. Designing a home that is affordable to buy or rent is the first obstacle to tackle in spreading the housing safety net more widely. But, making sure women can afford to run their home should be addressed too. The technology that makes heating homes economical exists. Yet, this is still considered a remote possibility.
Invest in Social Housing
Dr Sara Reis continues “We are calling on central government to invest in social housing to spread the benefits of the housing safety net more widely and save billions of pounds in housing benefit.” The report, shows that:
- There is no region in England where the average home to rent is affordable for a woman on median earnings.
- The average home to rent is affordable for men on median earnings in every region except London and the South East.
- Across England as a whole average rents take 43% of women’s median earnings and 28% of men’s.
Denise Fowler, chief executive of Women’s Pioneer Housing and Co- Chair of the Women’s Housing Forum perfectly summarised the report by stating: “This report highlights the link between providing women with safe, secure, good quality, affordable accommodation and the wider fight for women’s equality. Without a safe secure affordable home of her own no woman can achieve her potential.”