Homelessness in America (and Britain)

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In the United States there are 3.5 million homeless people while there are, at the same time, 18.5 million homes. This means that for every single homeless person there are an average of 5.28 empty homes. Something is terribly wrong in this equation.

The situation is probably the same, in proportion, in Britain and it is said that Britain has enough empty homes – and that is just empty homes; we don't even want to talk about other buildings that could be used as homes, as many squatters have shown – to house all the homeless of Britain and Ireland combined and still have room for more.

Britain has empty social housing that is no longer even on the “empty properties” list and this is because they are, officially to be redeveloped but, as in the case of the Ocean Estate in Stepney, London E1, which has been standing empty, bar for some squatters, who will probably evicted now under the new laws.

No development has happened on the Ocean Estate, despite the length the blocks of apartments have been empty now, as, so the local authority says, it does not have the funds to do the redevelopment.

People who lived on the Ocean Estate did not want to leave there but where evicted in the end and, yes, they were rehoused but it still left an estate of flats (apartments to our American cousins) and a community destroyed.

Then we have other estates, as indicated, that are also designated to be destroyed, and with it communities, and the reason for some of the other ones is that the land is too valuable for flats to be there. That appears to be the simple answer such as with the Robin Hood Estate in Poplar, London E14.

While one might not with to bring conspiracy theories into play here but one can but wonder as to whether there is a reason for allowing homelessness in capitalist countries by restricting the availability of affordable homes.

© 2012