Sunday, 23 June 2013

into the abyss they will fall



The gravity and plight of many homeless people; that has now exploded onto our streets, has given me great cause for worry, a dangerous, difficult or otherwise unfortunate predicament and as a result of government inaction to further the progress of social housing, along with policies that support only the promotion of the private sector in housing provision, not to mention the cuts, bedroom tax, benefit regime and a systematic attack upon working people in general is leading us into a crisis of enormous proportions.

Housing has long been my field of fight going back a good 30 years and more, have worked on two occasions in my life as a homeless advice and general welfare worker. But never have I seen or ever imagined that we would be living in a society that now sweeps people out onto the streets without blinking an eyelid.

So common is it in London to see people sleeping rough on the streets, it’s so bad, that you have to be careful not to trip over them, their very public existence is an indictment upon our cruel society. And society is cruel if not excessively so when in our modern era many are forced to sleep on the pavements of our streets whilst rows of houses stand empty, an estimated 72,000 in London alone and more than 6,000 are council owned by 33 London local authorities whilst record numbers show an endless and ever expanding demand for social housing.

All this makes no sense at all when you consider that people sleeping rough in London has risen by a staggering 13 percent in the last year and 113 percent since 2007.

Boris Johnson (the bike) our hugely funny Mayor, had a scheme to bring back into use empty properties but that's come to a virtual halt, his thinking could be that with property demand of housing ownership being at an all time high, better to save the £3.6 million he had put aside for the scheme and let the market quench its thirst.

This is  consequently a very concerning time for homelessness in London and indeed Great Britain as a whole: the weakening and concerted attack on welfare protection in a context of wider recession and housing market pressures is already having a negative effect on those most vulnerable to homelessness, with the prospect of much worse to come. In England specifically, policy measures which are weakening the housing safety net previously available to those in greatest need may further exacerbate homelessness, no government has ever been able or as I would argue been willing to effectively tackle the housing and homeless problem, and this can only be done when housing is taken out of the influence and stranglehold of the private developers and property speculators, and our society becomes civilised and complete by making housing a foundation of completeness when it is free at the point of need.


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