The conditions in which someone lives can change the way they feel about a city - and finding out people's views about where they live is an important step to changing a city for the better.
I've been raising the alarm about the London housing crisis as much as I can. As a London MP, I can't spend enough time making sure people are aware of the realities of the challenge the city faces: rising house prices pushing people out of the boroughs they grew up in, a generation of renters with little security and stability, and political barriers to building more houses that meet the supply gap.
But in the course of talking about the housing crisis, too often the issues of housing are visually depicted in extremes: a dilapidated high-rise block juxtaposed with gleaming shards, property bubble news reports, estate agent shop fronts and graphs of rising house prices. And too often we talk about housing in technical terms of construction costs and land availability. The human side of the housing crisis is lost; the family crammed into an overcrowded home, the renters struggling with endless cycles of rent rises and penny-counting, the young couple desperately trying to save enough to buy a place of their own.
In short, we hear what journalists and politicians think the issues are and and how it affects Londoners - but we don't hear enough from Londoners themselves. And it is only by having an inclusive debate with all parties allowed a voice, that we will together take the tough decisions needed to tackle the London housing crisis.
That's why I have commissioned the FOURWALLS film project. It encourages people across London to develop a short film (three minutes or less) about their experiences of housing in the capital. The film can be in any format or genre, from fiction to documentary, and could be filmed on anything from anything from a smartphone to an HD camera - we want anyone and everyone to get involved! The only requirement is that the submission makes the view sit up and think about housing in London. There are cash prizes for the winners, film making classes and a chance to have the winning entries shown at the London Short Film Festival.
We outlined a specifically broad brief to allow for innovation and creativity in the representations of Londoners housing views: What do you think about housing in the future? What do you love about where you live? What is challenging about your current circumstances? Who do you live with? What does your home look like? What makes for a happy home? Does how a home is designed matter? Where would you love to live if money were no object? What challenges do you face finding and maintaining a place to live in London?
A jury made up of architects, housing experts, and film industry practitioners, including Michael Winterbottom, Dominic Minghella, John Akomfrah OBE and Amanda Lavete will shortlist the best short films and select three winning films to receive prizes at the London Short Film Festival in January.
It's never been more important to hear the views of Londoners on the realities of their housing situation in the capital - FOURWALLS is an attempt to make that happen. Please consider submitting your view.
Visit here to find out more.
A short video about the project can be found here.