“The Coronavirus crisis has highlighted how eradicating homelessness is possible almost overnight if the political choice is made and will is there. The same is true of fixing the wider housing crisis by giving renters’ proper rights and building council housing.”Jeremy Corbyn MP.
It is a national scandal that anyone should sleep without a roof over their head in one of the richest countries in the world and after pressure from councils, Mayors, charities and others the Government appears to have backtracked on reports that programmes to tackle homelessness policy may no longer be funded directly by central Government.
At the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, we saw hotels and offices being converted into emergency safe spaces to protect rough sleepers as part of the ‘Everyone In’ scheme. Accommodation was offered to over 5000 people.
Now, no-one should return to the street.
It is important to understand that homelessness is the sharp end of a deep housing crisis, and that tackling the root causes of homelessness means not only more genuinely affordable homes but stronger rights for renters.
More than 11 million people rent privately yet for too long our system has prioritised the private profits of landlords over the rights of tenants. Urgent action is now needed to prevent major problems with many tenants at risk of eviction when the current temporary freeze on evictions is lifted.
To stop a new outbreak of homelessness, the time has come for the Government to suspend rent immediately for tenants affected by the Coronavirus crisis, cancel rent arrears accrued during the crisis and protect renters from eviction so no one loses their home.
Rents should be capped with inflation and cities given powers to cap rents further.
Moving forward, real change is needed to transform a housing system where homes are treated as financial assets rather than places to live.
Fundamental to this will be building council houses on a massive scale.
Once it is save to return to work, this can be part of rebooting the construction sector as part of getting our economy going again and tackling the climate emergency.
The Coronavirus crisis has highlighted how eradicating homelessness is possible almost overnight if the political choice is made and will is there. The same is true of fixing the wider housing crisis by giving renters’ proper rights and building council housing.
As we emerge from this crisis, let’s make sure everyone has a decent place they can call home as part of a better society.
- This piece was originally published on Jeremy Corbyn’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/notes/jeremy-corbyn/covid19uk-has-exposed-the-housing-crisis-it-needs-fixing-so-everyone-has-a-decen/10158521248178872/