Niall Cooper: What price a home?
The insanity of the housing market
What price do we put on everyone having access to a home? According to the late Pope John Paul II: “A house is much more than a simple roof over one’s head. The place where a person creates and lives out his or her life, also serves to found, in some way, that person’s deepest identity and his or her relations with others.” The Son of Man may have no place to lay his head, but in the sixth wealthiest nation on the planet, can we not find ways to ensure that everyone has access to a place to call home?
Take Jasmine Stone, a single parent from east London: “My daughter was 13 months old when I received the eviction notice. I was living in a hostel in Stratford, London E15. The letter said that we had two months to get out. We were homeless; that’s why we were in the hostel in the first place. We didn’t have anywhere else to go. There were 210 other young women living there. Now it’s luxury flats. The council said they would rehouse us, but it turned out they were threatening to move us hundreds of miles away, to Manchester, Hastings and Birmingham. We grew up in Newham. No one on low wages or benefits, or even an average income, can afford to live here.”
Jasmine’s response, along with a number of other homeless single mothers, was to form the Focus E15 campaign group – and to occupy one of almost 2,000 boarded up flats on the Carpenters Estate in Newham. As Jasmine says: “The boarded-up house we have opened is in beautiful condition; it has running water, a power shower, working gas and electricity. Just by adding a sofa, table and chairs and some plants, we have turned this house into a home, and solved the housing crisis for one of the 6,500 rough sleepers or thousands of other homeless people in London.”…
This is an extract from the November 2014 edition of Reform.