World
20.12.17

Homelessness and London’s increasing property prices

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We see them. Some stop to ask the reasons for their circumstances. Some pass by and ignore homeless people. London is a thriving city, but its streets highlight a severe deficiency in the welfare system. Homelessness has doubled since 2010 and it could be argued that the Conservative government is partly to blame. Within this problem is the issue of the cost of property:

There are are a number of causes that could result in an individual losing their home. Depression, for example, can lead to alcohol and drug use, or be sparked by a close relative passing away. This can have a dramatic impact on a person’s ability to think rationally. The most common cause of people losing their homes is the ending of short-term tenancy agreements by private landlords. This has become more evident in recent years. There has also been a drop in the building of property owned by the council and an increase in property owned by individual landlords.

Part of the reason for the worsening situation of people living on the streets is linked to unaffordable homes that don’t match up with household incomes. One aim that the Labour Party emphasised during the general election of June this year was its promise to build around 80,000 council homes. Outlined in Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto was his plan to protect private renters by putting an inflation cap on rising rents. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has also expressed his worry about the supply of houses for families, stating that it will be a ‘marathon’ and ‘not a sprint’. In Camden, for example, house prices are twelve times the average income and the 21st Century is said to mark the lowest point in house building since the 1920s.

The effort it takes to escape poverty and homelessness can make it extremely difficult. An address is needed to apply for a job and to claim benefits, so it can take years for someone to become employed and to secure a permanent address. As winter approaches, the risk of hypothermia amongst the homeless is especially high. Young women are vulnerable and sexual assault is a real concern, which is why many sleep during the daylight hours and sit awake at night for fear of being attacked.

The question we must ask ourselves is this: is the government doing enough to provide the working and middle classes with affordable homes? Homeless shelters provide short-term solutions, but in the long run the issue of rising property prices must be dealt with so that buying becomes a possible option. Future housing policy should introduce housings schemes that benefit the many, not the few.

By Sophia Andersson-Gylden

Global Seven News