credit: Garry Knight (CC) (uploaded 24/01/2018)
credit: Garry Knight (CC) (uploaded 24/01/2018)

Katie Simpson, Northampton Socialist Party

Prince William has announced intentions to end homelessness, going so far as to offer some of his own property for such projects. What does a prince know about homelessness and what’s needed to fix it?

As a drug and alcohol recovery worker for my local homeless community, I have seen the sharp end of the homelessness crisis. Certainly more social housing is a fundamental need, but the causes of homelessness are complex and link back to a broken system that values profit and ‘efficiency savings’ above the wellbeing of people.

Drug and alcohol abuse is a leading cause of homelessness, and homelessness exacerbates addiction, which continues the cycle. Addiction can stem from a number of issues, but a significant one is trauma. Yet mental health services have been privatised and cut year on year. For many, getting off substances also requires specialised services including detox and rehab, both of which are very expensive and have limited government funding for those who are homeless.

Unemployment and low pay are also a major factor as many struggle to make ends meet, and those able to claim benefits have limits in regards to how much help there is towards rent costs. As long as pay continues to stay below inflation and rents skyrocket, there will be new people finding themselves homeless.

With war, domestic violence and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric all still major features in capitalist society there will always be people finding themselves homeless and in need.

If Prince William truly wished to end homelessness, he would fight for a mass council house building campaign, fully funded drug and alcohol recovery services, refuges and mental health services back under the NHS. He would need to support rent caps, above-inflation pay rises, and the end of the gig economy.

While its commendable that the prince would consider such a project, why not let the working class decide how to achieve it? Give is a democratic say on how to use royal palaces, treasure and wealth!