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The Housing Debate$
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Stuart Lowe

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847422736

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847422736.001.0001

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The idea of housing policy: the crisis of the late-Victorian housing market

The idea of housing policy: the crisis of the late-Victorian housing market

(p.37) 2 The idea of housing policy: the crisis of the late-Victorian housing market
The Housing Debate

Stuart Lowe

Policy Press

There are points in time when existing patterns give way to new directions in policy and society. These ‘birth’ moments are critical to understanding the nature of the new forms and how they develop in the long run. The crisis of the late Victorian housing market and, later, on the unexpected and traumatic events of the First World War, triggered the demise of the normal institutional structure of housing at the time — renting from private landlords — and opened the way for two new forms: council housing and home ownership. This chapter is an account of the social, demographic, political and economic forces that led to the idea of ‘housing policy’. The questions of why local authorities became major providers of rental housing and why private landlords were unable to respond to the increasing demand for housing are outlined. The decades before 1914 contained in embryonic form important pointers to what was to follow the war. New ideas about housing were about to be born. It was the gestation time of the British home-owning society; new life-forms came into being, quite unlike most of the rest of Europe.

Keywords:   laissez-faire markets, housing policy, subsidies, urbanisation, council housing, First World War, demography

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