Tomorrow voters go to the polls to elect the first ever West Midland Metro Mayor. Whoever wins will be landed with an immediate housing headache. Political Correspondent Neil Elkes reports.
Some estimates suggest the region will need 300,000 new homes built over the next 15 years to meet demand and the first ever West Midlands mayor has a key role to play in this.
Despite rising demand, developers are not building enough homes with figures last year showing that 36,000 properties have planning permission but construction had not yet started.
Meanwhile towns and cities are seeing rising homelessness with family breakdown, soaring rents compared to stagnant wages or benefit cuts and a rising birth rate all playing a part.
Thousands also struggle to get on the property ladder as house prices continue to rise while mortgages are harder to secure.
And rough sleeping is on the increase with a 50 per cent rise in Birmingham reported earlier this year.
All of these are issues which the new mayor, along with the council leaders will have to address.
All the candidates have made strong pledges to tackle the shocking rise in rough sleeping which they agree shames the region.
The new mayor has some key responsibility over housing - with the power to compulsory purchase sites, the right to allocate sites currently held by the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency and joint responsibility for a £500 million housing investment fund.
A city organisation which trains up former rough sleepers to help the homeless has invited the mayor to go out and see the problem for themselves.
Birmingham Changing Futures Together director Natalie Allen said: "Knowing and experiencing are different. I want our leaders to roll their sleeves up and taste what life is like on the front line so their decisions reflect the needs of the most vulnerable in our city.”
The housing pledges
• Draw up a region-wide housing and land plan to sit over the piecemeal development plans produced by local councils - this has included the warning that Solihull could face losing some green belt land for new development
• Double the number of affordable new homes built in the region to over 3,000 per year
• Set up £500 million fund to reclaim derelict and contaminated former industrial sites
• Spend £200 million decontaminating former industrial sites
• Tax vacant land and use money to support development
• Make it easier for developers to convert buildings to housing
• Encourage Government to pilot its new Voluntary Right to Buy scheme here
• Protect the green belt
• Refurbish empty homes to get them back into use
• Convert empty offices in town centres into apartments
• Stop large scale relocation of families from expensive London boroughs to the region
• Roll out the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust model across region to build more council houses
• Provide sites for self-build and more affordable homes
• Look to identify land for development and get building under way
• Offer finance support for smaller builders and developers
• Campaign to get borrowing caps lifted so that councils and local authorities can raise more money for housing
• Support higher density developments near town centres and transport hubs
• Region wide housing and development plan
• Support small developers, self-builders, community trusts and housing co-ops to develop brownfield sites
• Use compulsory purchase powers to end land banking and increase the supply of land for development
• Trees and green space to be part of new housing developments - they are good for health and quality of life
• End land banking by developers
• Use councils to underwrite 95 per cent mortgages, a lower rates, for first time buyers
• Create more housing co-operatives where tenants share ownership and pay affordable rents