CRISIS, the national charity for single homeless people, correctly fears that a massive surge in homelessness is ahead, as it opens its nine Crisis Christmas refuges.
Following official figures showing record breaking unemployment levels, a YouGov survey on behalf of Crisis has revealed that 41% of adults in Britain know somebody who has lost their job due to the capitalist economic collapse.
It also found that unemployment is hitting home with 9% of people with a mortgage or rent repayment already struggling to pay the rent or mortgage.
In addition, a third (32.4%) of people would lose their home within three months of losing their main form of income, leading to Crisis’ fears of a horrific housing crisis in the New Year.
Leslie Morphy, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: ‘The economic downturn is hitting the poorest the hardest. Many are struggling to keep their homes. The situation is only made worse by pressure on jobs, with unemployment levels set to reach 2 million by the end of the year.
‘Our fear is that as the recession bites in the New Year we are going to see more people in the same situation as those relying on our Christmas centres today, whilst those already at the bottom of the pile are going to be further away from the help and support they need to put their lives back together.’
Of course, Crisis’ fears are more than justified.
In the next year a million people will lose their jobs, and hundreds of thousands of them will be unable to make their mortgage or rent payments. They will end up on the streets.
What is required is an emergency plan to house the homeless.
Under the Labour government, Labour Councils are actually demolishing council estates and selling the land to developers for speculative building aimed at the very rich.
It has reached the stage where almost the entire housing stock has been sold off, and where council tenants are being threatened with eviction by councils in Camberwell and other places, because they will not leave their council homes.
The sales of council estates, or their demolition by councils must be halted at once.
Likewise, all empty properties must be requisitioned and taken over to house the homeless.
As well there must be a programme of public works to build a million new council homes, both to house the homeless and to provide hundreds of thousands of young workers with jobs and the opportunity to learn trades and master skills at trade union rates of pay.
This is the way forward to begin to solve the housing crisis.
Trade unions must take the lead in the formation of Councils of Action to unite workers and tenants and youth to halt the demolition of council estates, and to prevent banks repossessing the homes of workers who have lost their jobs because of the banking and credit collapses.
The trade unions and Councils of Action will see to it that all empty properties are handed over to the homeless.
Since we have a Labour government that is determined to carry on with the destruction of council housing, with the support of the Tories and the Liberals, the trade unions must be prepared to bring the Brown government down, in order to bring in a workers government that will take all the concrete measures necessary to house the homeless and solve the housing problem.
This task can only be completed by a workers government that nationalises the banks and the building industry and places them under workers’ control.