I set out to try to find a link between the price of housing and homelessness. It seemed a huge task and certainly proved to be a difficult issue to handle. Whether rising house prices have an effect on the number of homeless households is a very fascinating subject but collecting data and researching the subject took much longer than anticipated. However I was able to access such information. After much debating which areas to consider within the United Kingdom I focused on the 33 London Boroughs.
Description and Source of Collected Data I used the most reliable sources possible, obtaining average house prices from HM Land Registry (http://www. landreg. gov. uk) where The Residential Property Price Report provides a detailed and authoritative insight into what is actually happening to average prices and sales volumes in the residential property market for England and Wales. The figures also incorporate average prices and number of sales within Greater London by individual London Boroughs.
Sales in this context are taken to mean the transfer of ownership for value of freehold and long leasehold residential properties, whether or not the purchase was supported by a mortgage. No weighting or adjustment was applied to the information collected to reflect any seasonal or other factors. The price data can be said to be actual unadjusted averages, drawn from the great majority of all residential sales completed during the last quarter of 2002. All types of accommodation have been included in the numbers, whether detached, semi-detached, terraced houses or flats or maisonettes were sold.
The averages also only contained data collected for post-code purchases, which meant that on average 20% less of sales have been included in the figures. However because of the number of sales per borough is quite high it would be unlikely that this fact would influence my findings. The next set of data, the other variable for the same area, came from an equally respected source. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has an extensive web site with a section about the issues of homelessness at http://www. homelessness. odpm. gov. uk/index. htm.
The numbers I could obtain were the number of households in accommodation arranged by local authorities, which excluded ‘Homeless at Home’. However the data was not perfect for the last quarter of 2002, which was the set I needed, to make a useful comparison. For 4 boroughs, Barnet, Haringey, Southwark and Tower Hamlets figures were missing, as local authorities did not report for that quarter. I then substituted the last available figure instead. I attached a copy of data collected and sorted in Table 1. , which was the basis for all calculations.
Due to the nature of the project with its time and resource limitations, it is only a snapshot and I could hardly give a real and meaningful account about the link between house prices and homelessness. Firstly I had to pick out one particular quarter of one particular year, which in itself limits any other periods to be accounted for and therefore seriously affecting the end result. So my samples here were not truly representative of the population. It would have been very useful to compare growth rates of house prices versus growth rates of homelessness over a long period of time, such as a decade.
Finding house prices growth rates would have been easy as they are readily available and have a reliable source. However extracting the same data for the dependent variable is almost impossible and even if it were done it would be distorted. The main reason for this is how much the legislation changes affected data recording over the decades. There is also of course the issue of population growth in London, which would obviously have an effect on the number of homeless as the pressure on housing had been growing.
Not to mention the periodic influx of refugees during conflicts in Balkans and from other war-stricken all over the world. The number of households re-housed after being classed homeless also does not include many hidden-homeless, who squat, rough-sleep or go on sleeping in friends’ houses for a considerable length of time. Homelessness has been showing a steady growing trend in London for the last decade and the same growing trend is obvious with regards to house prices. To link them up I would have needed over 30 pairs of values to apply regression analysis and give an accurate picture about how strong the link was.
The lack of data and time meant that this was not feasible. I would have also preferred to have worked with the number of homeless people per 1000 head population per borough as it would have been a much more representative figure and real comparison between boroughs would have been possible. These were again not readily available and calculating the values out myself, would have taken a great deal of time. So limitations to such a task are in abundance one just needs to learn to over-look certain aspects of the study.