There are more of us than there used to be.
And we’re more likely to live alone, or in smaller family units, than in the past.
As a result, demand for housing is continuing to rise and, as we report, that demand is not being met.
Building new homes is part of the answer. Birmingham City Council has been keen to build more council houses, but this clearly becomes more difficult at a time when funding is in short supply.
The authority is taking the lead in developing imaginative ways of raising funds for all sorts of projects, such as borrowing against future tax revenues. But as council leaders point out, previous waves of home-building have been publicly funded in a way which is probably impossible today.
Private developers also face challenges, such as difficulties obtaining credit and a sluggish property market, which means that even though there is a housing shortage there is no guarantee that properties they build will sell.
Having said that, they are benefitting from a range of Government-backed schemes designed to boost housing sales.
The construction industry is an important generator of jobs. Giving it a boost leads very quickly to an increase in employment, in contrast to some sectors where jobs take longer to be created or to be filled, sometimes because they require very specific skills.
It’s no surprise then that both the Opposition and the Coalition parties have come up with proposals for getting the property market moving again.
But whoever pays for new homes to be built, there is also the issue of limited space.
As it’s impossible to create new land, the answer would appear to be to build to a higher density.
It sounds unattractive – packing more people into limited space. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.
Terraced homes can look beautiful and provide ample space for residents, while still allowing for a high population density. In some locations, terraced properties command very high prices – not a phenomena we’d want to replicate across Birmingham but evidence of the fact that “high density” homes can be popular.
What matters is great design and housing developments which are built with communities in mind – something which is easier said than done.
Architects and developers need to innovate, while government needs to support them.