York launches £1m housing inequalities research programme

Posted on 3 August 2018

The University of York will invest £1m in a collaborative programme of research into housing inequalities and social justice.

A housing estate in the UK

The programme, which will run for five years from autumn 2018, will explore the intersections between housing, health, life chances and wellbeing.

Stark inequalities

An adequate, affordable and stable home is out of reach for a significant amount of the UK population. Many people live in unaffordable and insecure housing, reflecting and reinforcing stark inequalities in income, wealth and life chances.

While housing conditions have improved greatly during the last century, overcrowding and poor repair persist. The UK's homes and built environment are too often insufficiently accessible for people with limiting illnesses or disabilities.

Precarious, unaffordable and inadequate housing can have negative impacts on wellbeing across a person’s lifetime - from a child's educational attainment and healthy development through to the capacity of someone in later life to maintain their independence.

The wrong housing can undermine interventions designed to improve public health and compromise or counteract the effects of care services and treatment, while frequent moves can break continuity of care. Spatial concentrations of poverty and disadvantage have long been associated with poor life chances and bad health.

Transdisciplinary research

The Centre for Housing Policy, based in the University’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work, will lead the programme, working with researchers from across the University to develop transdisciplinary research agendas.

Established in 1990 with the support of a significant endowment from the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust, the Centre for Housing Policy has been researching the interconnections between housing and wider social policy for 28 years, producing independent, highly regarded social research that extends knowledge and enhances policy.

The Rowntree endowment provides the core funding for the housing inequalities and social justice programme. Ongoing support and advice from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (successor organisation of the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust) in management of the endowment have made this new programme possible.

Impactful research

A Joseph Rowntree Chair in Housing Policy and Housing Inequalities will support the programme and a Housing Justice Fellowship programme will facilitate the involvement, from start to finish, of campaigners, policy makers and practitioners in impactful research.

Professor Nicholas Pleace, Director of the Centre for Housing Policy, said:

“The housing inequalities and social justice programme will reinforce, extend and deepen our capacity to look at the realities of housing, inequality and social justice in the UK.

“It will open up opportunities for new transdisciplinary research, new partnerships and new ways of looking at the true extent, meaning and consequences of housing inequalities in our society. It will help us to build working relationships with non-academic partners and continue our development of comparative research with European and other international partners.”