A social rent case study: Slim

For Slim Flegg, living in a social rent home has been “a blessing”.

The 81-year-old, who is married and has two children, moved into his Optivo home in Mitcham, London, in 1997. And he’s passionate when he speaks about the need to build more affordable housing.

Slim said: “There are more people sleeping rough and more people living with their parents into middle age and it causes unrest. You’ve got people who are 50-years-old living with their parents because there’s nowhere they can afford to live.

The costs in London are totally inhibitive and are forcing people out of the area; in the private sector you’ve got a situation where people are being charged over £400 a month for one room which is a disgrace and should never be.

You shouldn’t be forced out of an area to be housed. For me, social housing has been a blessing.”

Slim is very upbeat when he talks about living in Mitcham. He moved into the London Borough of Merton, where Mitcham is situated, over 60 years ago.

He describes a place with excellent transport links, including the tram which takes you to Croydon and Wimbledon, and a nearby doctors’ surgery and shops.

It’s a good area and people are social. They do say hello and it’s not an area where you don’t know your neighbours.”

“When people come into my house they say ‘wow’.

Slim, who is registered disabled, moved into council housing in 1966 before living in housing association properties. He explains he did have an opportunity to buy his own home many years back.

But while waiting for improvements to the property to be made, the price continued to rise, ultimately making it unaffordable.

Slim explained: “It was £1,500 and within months it was £5,000. Then a few months after it was £15,000 – house prices just rocketed.

Most people can’t afford to buy in this area. What chance do the next generation have? Economically, we are able to do something about this as a country.

You’ve got to build more, affordable, social housing. I was totally against Right to Buy unless there is a house built to cover the one being bought.”

Slim concurs there’s a stereotypical view of what a social housing property is like, but is quick to dispel any myths. He is extremely house proud and describes some of the features of his home.

Slim added: “When people come into my house they say ‘wow’. We have a carport, a large kitchen and a very large garden. I know I’m very lucky!”