HOMELESS people die thirty years before the national average, says the latest research from Sheffield University commissioned by Crisis, the national charity for single homeless people.
‘Homelessness: A silent killer’ finds that homeless men are dying at 47 years old and women at 43 years old, in stark contrast to the average age of death for the general population which is 77 years.
Another key finding from the research into the mortality of homeless people is that homeless people are over nine times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
Leslie Morphy, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: ‘It is shocking, but not surprising, that homeless people are dying much younger than the general population. Life on the streets is harsh and the stress of being homeless is clearly taking its toll.’ She went on to say: ‘homelessness is killing people’.
She concluded: ‘We need to prevent single people becoming homeless in the first place. It is a shocking fact that in the 21st century there is still no right to shelter and that a single homeless person can approach their council for help and be turned away to sleep on the streets. With homelessness rising, government must act now and change the law to ensure that help is available to all homeless people who need it when they need it.’
At the same time as the homeless are dying on the streets it is a fact that government policy is ensuring that council estates are being demolished all over the country, so that the land can be handed over to speculators, who in a situation of economic crisis are now not even building private apartments for the rich, they are simply boarding up the land.
Many councils are abolishing their housing lists and are refusing to give the homeless and the unemployed priority.
Meanwhile the economic catastrophe has seen mortgage lending coming to a standstill as the banks try to cut down on their risk.
Middle class people can no longer get mortgages, so they are moving into rented accommodation, often of a type that they would not have even have been seen near in better times.
To take advantage of this new market in rented accommodation, Housing Charities such as Peabody have appointed ‘decanting’ officers to shift the poor off some of their housing estates so that homes can be rented off to the middle classes, who are now desperate to find a place to live, at market rents.
The message to the poor is get lost!
Meanwhile the government is assisting in this great squeeze with its plans to slash housing benefit at a time when the price of rented accommodation is sky-rocketing.
The abolition of students grants, and the emergence of fees that will shortly be as great as £9,000 a year, has also added to the housing crisis and to the rising numbers of the homeless, when students cannot afford accommodation near their university and cannot remain at home with their parents.
With house building reduced to a trickle, and with the destruction of council housing, accompanied by a drive to get the poor off benefits and into cheap labour employment, the army of the homeless can only rise back to the Victorian levels of poverty and despair.
Another example of UK capitalism trying to create a future for itself by returning the working class and the middle class to 19th century conditions of life.
There is only one way to resolve this housing crisis, that capitalism cannot and does not want to resolve.
This is to nationalise the land, the building industry and the banks as part of a national plan to build millions of council houses, at minimal rents.
Such a national plan will as well as abolishing homelessness, deal a heavy blow at mass unemployment. It will provide millions of jobs, at trade union rates of pay and hundreds of thousands of real apprenticeships where young workers can learn skills that are vital for the development of society.
Labour began the destruction of council housing and the Tories are seeking to finish the job.
To solve the housing crisis requires a socialist revolution.