The New Statesman doesn’t care about homeless people.
Their recent leader called for an increase in the number of homes being built in this country “For the sake of growth and our young people”. They didn’t mention the need to prevent homelessness once.
It is of course a pressing issue that the average age of a “first-time homebuyer without parental assistance” is now 37. But is it as significant as the terrifying increase in the number of homeless people?
Over the past 5 years almost all boroughs in London have seen an increase in the number of people sleeping rough.
The New Statesman is not alone in failing to link this problem with the challenge of how to build more homes. The recent, and in many ways comprehensive, Lyons review included just two paragraphs on “housing for vulnerable groups” and a couple of mentions on homelessness in a report that is nearly 200 pages long.
I’m not suggesting that homelessness is simply caused by high rents or a lack of affordable housing. I am suggesting that building more homes would reduce the number of people who have to spend even one night sleeping on the streets.
We are currently building nowhere near as many homes as Boris’ London Plan says are required.
As long as we continue to build far fewer new homes than are needed it will be harder to prevent people becoming homeless, especially now the biggest cause of homelessness is people losing their private sector tenancy.
Many journalists and politicians do not consider preventing homelessness and helping overcrowded families as significant an issue as supporting economic growth or helping first time buyers afford a deposit.
Given that I have written numerous pieces on the need to increase the number of houses being built in Britain, it’s perhaps a bit churlish to criticize others who are calling for the same thing. The idea of building more homes is an excellent one, partly because it would make it easier for young people to buy their first home, but also because it would help prevent homelessness.