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How to talk about homes – Natalie Tate

Building more and better quality homes is essential to end homelessness and address our housing crisis. Yet our homes are so much more than just four walls, because decent and affordable homes enable people to build the foundations on which they can thrive. And so, how we talk about homes to shift the narrative and help people understand the urgency and solutions is one way that we in the sector and media can contribute to this.

We know that people recognise our housing crisis. Even if they’re not experiencing the harm caused by the shortage of decent affordable homes themselves, often people know someone who is.

Yet whilst we lament the lack of affordable homes, many people at the same time still see homes as an investment, rather than the foundation of a good life. And one of the big challenges we face as we call for solutions is that although people see the problems that exist, they can’t picture how, or even if, they could ever be fixed.

This is where the need for effective framing comes in, so that we diminish fatalism, build understanding and activate ‘can-do’ attitudes. By using proven strategies to tell a compelling story, we can help people to believe that change is possible and worth calling for.

Our top tips for anyone who writes and talks about homes are:

  • Talk about homes as a source of health and wellbeing to build understanding of why access to decent and affordable homes matters.
  • Describe decent, affordable homes as the ‘foundation’ for people’s lives, as an effective way to build understanding.
  • Invoke people’s sense of moral responsibility to build the case for making decent and affordable housing available to everyone.
  • Build efficacy by showing people how issues can be fixed and explaining solutions, as well as reminding them about the urgency of the housing crisis and how we got here.

Using these evidence-led principles to communicate about decent and affordable homes will activate a shift in mindsets, whether that’s when we’re talking to our friends and family, or in our work.

The Nationwide Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Foundation have worked in partnership with FrameWorks UK to research and share proven ways to frame communications about homes. We want to enable anyone with a passion for improving our housing system to play their part in changing the narrative and building deeper public support for solutions.

Find out more at How to talk about homes.

Natalie Tate is the Strategic Communications Manager at Joseph Rowntree Foundation, leading on the Talking about Housing project.