UK Homeless

Mike Steindel (
Wed, 10 Mar 1999 16:11:40 -0800 (PST)

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It's plain mathematics: for the rich to get richer, some of us have to
stay poor. But in 'I'm alright Jack' England, reason is in short supply.
Everything is blamed on the individual. You lost your job! Lazy bastard!
You lost your home! You inadequate bastard! Blaming homelessness on the
homeless is as stupid as blaming poverty on the poor. + 

Shelter estimates that there are 1,928,300 homeless people in the UK,
while the Empty Homes Agency estimates that there are 820,000 empty
properties in the UK. Figures from The Big Issue + 

"It (begging) is not acceptable to be out there on the street. There is
no justification for it these days. It is a very offensive problem to
many people... We think aggressive begging is a menace. Action has been
taken against aggressive begging for some time and will continue." John
Major, May 28 1994 + 

"We do not want people begging on the streets... I often drop my kids
off in the morning at King's Cross and it's quite a frightening place.
I'm saying we have to make our streets safe for people." Tony Blair, Jan
6, 1997 + 

"Those among you who have the good fortune to enjoy shelter, warmth and
the comfort of a good home, I would ask you to consider just one thing:
what would you do if you saw your wife and children condemned to live
for years in a single room? I know what you would do. You would move
heaven and earth to get something done, and if you knew there were large
numbers of empty places which could be used you would protest against it
by every means within your power, and so would I. 

That is what we have done... I, with thousands of other Londoners, want
to see something better for our people, and what we claim for ourselves
we feel it our duty to find for anyone else." From Ted Bramley's
obituary, by Margot Heinemann, 1991 (Ted Bramley played a leading role
in the organising of the squatters' movement, when (in 1946) hundreds of
families took over empty blocks of luxury flats, demanding that local
councils use their powers to requisition all such empty properties. 

He was tried with four others at the Old Bailey on a catch-all charge of
'conspiracy to incite trespass', where he conducted his own political
defence; challenging the crowded court with the above characteristic
personal appeal to heart and conscience. The defendants were found
guilty, but surprisingly were only bound over instead of the prison
sentences they expected; and the requisitioning of homes for the
homeless notably increased.) +

"(There's) a hidden army which is squatting or living in unsuitable bed
and breakfast accomodation. A national inquiry commissioned by charities
suggested that there may be 250,000 people aged 17-25 alone in this
group." The Guardian +
"It was only in the aftermath of Jack Straw's speech in Autumn 1995,
urging a crackdown on aggressive beggars, winos and 'squeeze merchants'
as part of a New York police style 'Zero Tolerance' campaign, that there
was serious cabinet discussion about government policy. 

Michael Howard, the home secretary, pushed to update the vagrancy laws
with what became known in Whitehall as the "sluice 'em down" policy to
force beggars off the streets." The Guardian January, 1997 + 

"Since 1979, spending on housing has been more than halved, and fewer
houses are being built today in Britain since at any time since the
Second world War. Put another way: in 1975 equal amounts were being
spent on defence and housing; in 1984 five times as much was spent on
military services and on war material. 

Britain no longer has a national housing programme. While this policy
has created more and more homeless people, a phenomenon has emerged. It
is the British-Welfare State bank rolling the exploiters of the homeless
and the unemployed to the extent of more than =A3120 million a year.
This windfall now enriches owners of so-called hotels and hostels, most
of them squalid, where victims of the recession are sent by local
authorities and by the Department of Health and Social Security. These
are the workhouses of the late twentieth century." 

>From =D4Heroes=D5, John Pilger + 
"Shelter announced their 'NATIONAL HOMELESSNESS WEEK' in Febuary '96. 

They asked the public to 'wear a badge or send a postcard to aid the
homeless'. JUSTICE? in Brighton responded with their own self-help
campaign against homelessness; they opened a squatted Estate Agency. Its
window displayed empty properties complete with helpful information:
"Three bedrooms, nice garden, window open at the back". 

The Labour Brighton Council rushed an eviction order through the courts,
so that an Eviction Notice was served on the building within hours of
opening." Paraphrased from Schnews, Brighton 

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