Housing is one of the primary sites of social reproduction; a home is made from the unpaid and emotional labour that has historically been carried out by women.
The labour that takes place within the home is centred on sustaining life, rather than accruing profit. It should come as no surprise that women have been and continue to be central to the housing movement. Living Rent is no exception.
Grassroots housing movements are often born in the context of abandonment of communities by the state-- an abandonment that shifts community care onto women and disproportionately affects women. Here’s a snapshot of a few:
* Around 90% of single parents are women, and they have been hit hard by Universal Credit, which has meant a cut to the income of single-parent families. Universal Credit is not enough to live on, and this is only made worse by high (and increasing) rents.
* Women who experience domestic and gender-based violence are made more vulnerable by high rents and scarce social housing, making it more difficult for them to leave.
* Landlords increasingly engage abuse their power in attempting to coerce vulnerable people, mostly women, who are facing housing difficulty into sex.
* Marginalised communities, particularly women of colour and migrants, are more likely to experience poor quality housing or difficulty accessing housing, as well as the added barrier of "Right to rent immigration checks" that place the border in the home. Migrants have no recourse to public funds, meaning that they are unable to claim benefits such as universal credit. In the pandemic where many have lost their jobs, this has pushed many into extreme rent debt.
The Scottish rental sector is failing women. We need safe, affordable housing. We need more social and public housing and we need rent controls.