To most people, thinking of social housing might typically invoke one of two images: kids weaving big-wheeled bikes between identical high rises; or post-war ‘new town’ developments, which historically placed workers and their families in entirely new communities in industrial areas. These possibilities may ring true for some people’s lived experiences, but with the decline of new social housing developments at a time when they are needed most, the few new properties being released to social housing tenants are often nestled among more expensive housing only available to more affluent residents, in ways which alienate the poor. In fact, social housing now is so far removed from dominant expectations of cohesive, mono-class communities that it is hard to spot.
Young people can’t catch a break. On the one hand, we’re scolded and ridiculed for our apparent lack of engagement with traditional political institutions, which is generally assumed to be a result of our ‘laziness’ or ‘apathy’, with our disillusionment and distrust with politicians that have continually failed us apparently precluding our ‘right to complain’. On the other hand, when we do engage politically, in those rare moments when we do seek to take an active role in our futures, we’re painted as thuggish, fragile or naïve. In short, the message we continually get is: “engage – but not like that!”
In recent years the discussion of gentrification and globalisation has become almost unavoidable – and for the most part, these terms have now been resigned as popular buzzwords in pseudo-intellectual conversations. As glib as this may sound, I shall do my best to explain.
While many a piece has been written on this subject, this is in fact not my primary focus. My intention is not to deny the lived and consequential reality of western mobilisation, but rather look towards the supporters and benefactors of this growing socio-economic practice. In particular, a generation of young people who are forgoing academic careers in favour of acquired/inherited wealth and personal development. More specifically, I will focus on my experience in post-Brexit Germany.
by Olivia Hanks
“Walk down your local high street today and there’s one sight you’re almost certain to see. Young people, faces pressed against the estate agent’s window, trying and failing to find a home they can afford.” Sajid Javid’s words, in his speech launching the government’s latest white paper on housing, were rather unfortunate. The sight we’ve all been seeing on high streets this winter is the clusters of sleeping bags in doorways, the faces those of people failed so badly by society that they no longer have anywhere to live at all. This lack of understanding of what the housing crisis really is – not just thwarted aspirations of ownership, but squalor, overcrowding, evictions – sets the tone for this misfiring, misleading, self-contradicting paper.
As another Christmas passes us by, society suddenly remembers about the people living their lives on the streets. The cold weather and family focus of this time of year always seems to bring about fresh discussion, reports, and news concerning the issues around homelessness. Thankfully, much of the talk on the subject – especially on social media – is rather positive. This year I’ve seen a considerable number of friends and colleagues on Twitter and Facebook talking about admirable projects that provide food, care and company to those without a home during the Christmas period.
by Craig Hall
No one can argue that we have a housing crises. There are too few homes usually costing too much, often in the wrong places and often of poor quality. Not to mention rural communities suffering with cost of housing soaring beyond their means or the beach side type, dead in winter, consumed as second homes. These are all symptoms of a much bigger problem with the banks and house builders profiting from existing model.
The paradox of this is two fold. On the one hand you are asking builders to build more houses for less money, on the other, you’re asking the banks to lend money on lower borrowing because more houses will reduce prices leading to lower borrowing. It’s not rocket science.
So how about an idea which would reduce the costs and supply the demand in the right place and of the best quality? Oh, forgot to mention it would also generate, not cost, local councils with additional income.
by George Laver
On 13th March 2016, a rally took place in support of the ‘kill the housing bill’ campaign, aimed at confronting governmental attacks on council and social property and redressing our attitudes towards it. Since then, numerous student-led rent strikes have also ignited. The cause for anger in both of these movements stems from different stimuli, but both address issues of rent and property.
The first, from the legacy of Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ scheme, which initially undermined council housing; the final blows were to come from this Housing and Planning Bill. The second, from the frankly ridiculous cost of rent that is borne by students in London — although this could extend across the UK, as many students will readily testify to the advantage-taking circus that are landlords. Geared towards annihilating social housing, the Housing and Planning Bill in particular aims at increasing the rent payments of council house tenants in wealthier areas. A natural product of this would be the forcing of people out of their council houses and into the arms of another set of robbers — or, private landlords.
In response to this, the demonstration of March 13th attracted thousands of protesters, targeting their motions towards the fact that sharp increases in rent would facilitate an eviction of council tenants in all but name. These issues should be labelled for what they are: the government taking control of people’s very lifestyles. By increasing rent prices, they are forcing movement; it seems to bear many similarities to a covert attempt to stimulate the private housing sector. Once again, their interests lie in private property — we are merely pawns on the board.
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity national End Austerity demonstration takes place on Saturday 20th June. Assemble: 12pm, Bank of England (Queen Victoria Street). March to: Parliament Square.
Like a storm in the sea sending a tidal surge our way, the past 5 years under austerity tell us of looming devastation. We saw it gather momentum on the horizon, as the waves of cuts started to roll in — pay freezes for the public sector, caps on benefits and cuts to social housing. This left in its wake a falling GDP per capita, a decline in affordable housing, and the rise of food banks. And now that those responsible for this have been re-elected, we are shamelessly informed that the storm is not over, the worst is yet to come and we will not be rescued.