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There are a number of things our London politicians like to talk about: themselves (most of them), their hair (Boris), the 80s (Ken) and being in the police once upon a time (Brian). In the debates thus far, they have delivered their prepared lines on all the ways in which living in our city must be made safer – rioting, knife crime, antisocial behaviour, terrorism – and all the myriad ways Londoners use to get about our fair city – cycling, the underground, buses, taxis, cars, walking, trams, even rickshaws! In fact, they’ve talking points on them all.

But on one issue of vital concern to Londoners, they’ve been slow to talk. Despite more than a third of Londoners saying that the cost of a home is a major problem affecting their quality of life (more so than crime, congestion, the general cost of living or unemployment), housing barely gets raised by the candidates, who choose to talk about nearly anything else.

So, we’ve ended up with a mayoral race that has failed to address one of the key barriers to Londoners living life to the fullest and making the most of the opportunities of our city. Of course, all the candidates have sections in their manifestos – dusty documents held in corners of their websites – addressing housing issues; but there is a failure of leadership across the field in making housing a subject of political debate and controversy, with candidates competing to be on the side of priced-out Londoners.

What about the fact a quarter of London’s families now live in the private rented sector: a market riddled with instability and unpredictable rent costs, hardly ideal for bringing up a family? Or that nearly 1.8 million Londoners are being priced out of their local communities by the soaring cost of a home? Or most importantly, that whoever is elected on 3 May will get more money, more land and more powers to run London’s housing?

Londoners deserve to hear the candidates’ visions for London’s housing – they deserve to hear the candidates arguing about whose ideas would most help Londoners get homes.

Shelter thinks that the next Mayor should seize the opportunity of the government’s devolution of housing powers in London to create a big new GLA brand that Londoners can recognise and hold to account: Homes for London.

Bringing together all the disparate agencies responsible for dealing with London’s housing crisis as Homes for London could deliver the same leadership on housing that transport gets from TfL. It could slim down the bureaucracy and duplication of the current system. And it could use the Mayor’s bully pulpit to raise the standards of renting in London through working with good landlords and pushing out the rogues; calling for longer tenancies and making London a more affordable place to live, work and raise a family.

Homes for London – a presence on every new build site, every empty homes renovation, a quality mark for good landlords – will remind the public that Mayor can make a real difference. Londoners know that the buck stops with the mayor when it comes to transport. They need to know the same for homes.

Emily Shipp is Shelter’s UK Campaigns Officer. 

Follow Emily on twitter: @shippsails

The guest blog is published every Friday and views held by contributors are not necessarily those of Bright Blue, as good as they often are.

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