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Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 927, 30 November 2016: Time to fight low pay

Search site for keywords: Homelessness - Capitalism - Council - US - Accommodation - Housing - Austerity - Mental health

Homelessness - capitalism is destroying people's lives

Housing: homeless person, photo Paul Mattsson

Housing: homeless person, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

My partner and I are living in what's known as emergency accommodation. It's a small room which costs the council 150 a week. The building is old and falling apart. It's dusty and often we have to wipe the walls with bleach to get rid of black mould.

The only reason we have been housed is because my partner is pregnant, otherwise the council would have no responsibility to help us.

The cramped conditions aren't very good for her and we have been suffering ill health for the last two months. Whenever she needs to rest I take my books and read in the communal kitchen, otherwise I'd make too much noise and wake her up.

Yet I consider us extremely fortunate. Why, you might ask? Because it could be worse. I have seen the poor mental health and desperate situations of other residents in the same building.

One tenant, a pensioner, who has severe chest problems and can barely walk, has been told he must leave next month because he is deemed not to be a priority any longer.

A couple have just been told by their council that they have until January to find their own accommodation. He suffers multiple mental and physical problems and his wife is still recovering from a recent brain tumour. I asked where will they go. The answer I got was that they will live in their car.

Keeping positive in all this is difficult. We could be on the streets. That's not so unlikely, with the demand for housing, even emergency housing, much higher than the supply, I am under no illusion that our situation is secure at all. I prepare myself every day for the worst.

What is the cost to fix this? Councils spending billions on emergency accommodation is a huge waste of money, unless, of course, you're a landlord.

I won't tar all landlords with the same brush. Some are decent, some are not. But in general, it's become a big investment pot for property owners. Many of the politicians who carry through austerity cuts have properties and gain in this way.

It's clear that the majority of politicians have no answers for our problems. We need policies and a party that will fight for working class interests.

I am living in a situation where I can see the effects of neoliberalism, of capitalism, literally destroying families and single people. A fightback is now more important than ever. And it can be won. United, we are stronger than those that oppress us.

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