Homelessness sweet homelessness

Issue section: 

In her column last month (In my view, Socialist Review, September 2007) Lindsey German implies several steps that might move us towards a solution to the present housing crisis.

A serious programme of affordable house building is one of the most obvious solutions.

It is interesting to note that of the 235,000 homes built last year, only 255 were built by local authorities, and 25,000 were built by "social landlords" (the much lauded Private Finance Initiative leeches), leaving the remaining 80 percent to the private - read unaffordable - sector.

Were council waiting lists to run only to three digits, perhaps this would be acceptable. But there are over 1.5 million people on waiting lists and 135,000 in temporary accommodation.

We are looking at what Lindsey rightly describes as a compulsion to throw ourselves "onto the mercy of the housing market" - a compulsion that results in the recent proliferation of subprime lending which has left many forever on the brink of repossession, entirely at the mercy of interest rates.

New Labour's reckless housing policy has been a failure. It has left thousands homeless and forced thousands more into precarious debt, for the sake of lining a few pockets.

"The Market" does not deliver, because it cannot deliver. It in fact brings only homelessness and economic instability, which makes its replacement all the more urgent.

Iain Taylor