The YMCA has come up with an unusual idea to help young people find affordable housing to live independently and maybe offer a step in the right direction of solving the UK housing crisis. The scheme has been launched to give people in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world, a way to get their own space. |
For £75 a week, you can rent a mYPad, which is a modified shipping container. The containers have been converted to small studios with a bed, small kitchen with sink, fridge and electric hob, a TV and storage and a bathroom. The idea was tested for 9 months to ensure the mYPads were adequately heated in winter and cool enough in summer.
Following recent media coverage there has been a huge amount of interest in the project. However at first the myPads will only be available on two specific sites and are only for young people who currently reside in YMCA hostels. It is hoped that other organisations and housing authorities will consider the idea and it could be rolled out on a larger scale.
The YMCA developed the mYPads as the housing shortage in London developed and more and more young people found themselves homeless. The vast majority of young people leaving home or supported accommodation simply could not afford the large deposit needed to buy a flat in the city and with the average rent in London being between £200 and £600 a month, depending on the zone, they simply could not afford to rent their own property.
The cost of renting in London has increased 8 times faster than wage increases and has now reached an all time new high. More than a quarter of people living and working in London now rent, compared with just 14% 15 years ago. However, even those renting are being priced out of the market by rising rents, being driven by the huge demand. But the surge in house prices and restrictions on mortgages means these young people and couples cannot afford to buy either. Tenant arrears are also creeping up with a tenth of rent owed going unpaid. Over two thirds of those renting in the capital are struggling.
This innovative idea aims to give young working people independence and somewhere cheap where they can live and save a deposit for their own place.
The first two mYPads were rolled out in June 2012 and since then were tested by staff and visitors to see how comfortable they were, what noise levels were like both inside and outside, if they stood up to winter temperatures and summer heat. The feedback meant the models due for the final site could be modified accordingly.
The shipping containers come from China and to transform them into the studio homes it costs £20,000 each. Currently the YMCA is relying on donations and other funding to build the first lot of these, but if successful, it could be an ideal solution to London's housing crisis. It could also help save the taxpayer £25,000 a year by reducing housing lists and reducing benefits paid out. Currently the Government spends over £100 billion a year on housing benefits, yet only £4.5 billion on building new homes.
It is hoped that the mYPad idea will inspire other organisations to consider different alternatives to help London's homeless.
© Rachel Gawith is a freelance writer on the UK property market, rental market and related topics and is part of the marketing team for whathouse property portal.
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