BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
This is the second and final part of an article published yesterday on Eradicating Homelessness in the UK. The first part can be found here.
Yesterday in Part 1, I explained that the wrong people were at the cutting edge of dealing with the Homelessness problem in Britain. That we should seek to eradicate the problem and not exacerbate it. I promised solutions. So here they are (all based on the gentle enforcement by the authorities of rough-sleeping being illegal and co-operation with job centres to assist sofa-surfers in achieving a permanent roof over their heads):
- The public should be informed of a new Homelessness Fund which will replace the likes of Shelter, Crisis and others who have failed over the years to eradicate Homelessness. At current rates of donation and current Government spending on Homelessness, that will raise a IRO £1 Billion + a year fighting fund.
- A Volunteer army should be assembled of people willing to assist.
- I’d start the solution process in London – one of the world’s richest cities – where, shamefully, people sleep on the street; in green council recycling bins, in cars, beneath vans, in tents and in underground car parks. There are wartime shelters under London which are in good order which, once implemented, can temporarily house thousands, such as in Clapham.
- When Brexit finally clicks in, those homeless who are immigrants who have failed to get work should be given a ticket home to their families and a meagre amount of spending money.
- Drug addicts who are homeless should be taken to specialist drug rehabilitation centres.
- Homeless alcoholics should be treated at work centres (e.g fruit and vegetable-picking farms).
- The mentally ill homeless should be housed and seen to by mental health experts.
- The unemployed homeless should be given a CV, some clean clothes and interviews. The single should be taken to areas where workers are required. Those who need to be near family should be hooked up with Manpower and other such agencies, who have jobs to fill.
- Those homeless who want to sleep rough should be given dispensation in certain common land areas to pitch their tents, in exchange for assisting with the upkeep and cleanliness of that land.
- The young homeless (including many sofa surfers) should be trained up on site to rebuild houses in places like Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Stoke, where the council housing stock is crumbling – in exchange they should be given the chance to get employment and live where they build.
- Kids who are homeless should be brought under supervised council care.
- The more mature homeless should be trained up as carers, who we will desperately need in coming years, or supermarket workers, and be given a roof over their heads nearby.
- The big supermarket chains should be asked by the Government, in exchange for tax breaks where necessary, to employ homeless people and house them near out-of-town depots where they should be supervised and helped to climb the supermarket ladder – there is no shortage of housing in such places. To knock up massive dormitories – places to stay before these workers get their first pay cheques to afford their own lodgings – would hardly dent a supermarket’s bottom line and would augment public appreciation of them.
- The farms are desperate for pickers and labourers. Those with criminal records finding it hard to get work could work in these farms, in depots or be picked up by army recruiters if they fit the bill for army careers.
- Homeless veterans should be given an extra leg-up and be offered the best contracts of all the homeless. At the large building companies, on the railways and by councils. They are owed the most.
None of this is rocket science.
Enforcing the illegality of homelessness does not mean charging those who are homeless with a crime. They are not stray dogs. They are you and me. They can opt to remain homeless in designated spaces, where their problems can be addressed if they so wish. Or be given a leg up.
My solution is hardly Singaporean. It can all be done in a civilised, intelligent and kindly manner. In a British way. No need for human rights lawyers or social justice warriors to get distressed – but supervision must be wise and welcomed, as many of these people are the most vulnerable souls in Britain today.
Those who argue we don’t have enough money. Really? Look again at the stats in Part 1. The money is already there to be used. We can house 20,000 refugees but not start bringing the British Homeless numbers down? You sure?
Homelessness will increase as long as the do-gooders and those using the charities for political gain – as government whipping-boys – continue to dictate the narrative in the Homelessness space. Frankly – and there are some saintly and effective exceptions – they’re an embarrassment. I’d be ashamed to be one of their executives. I could not sleep at night earning the kind of money these homeless charity bigwigs earn from well-intentioned public donations – rewarded for the utter failure of their efforts over the years. Yet they attend homelessness conferences and enjoy lavish meals and hotel stays on expenses.
It is time to stop the British homeless charity gravy train. Time to smash down a lot of the do-gooder legislation and red tape. To take the best bits of the private charities – pooling efforts centrally. To stop duplication of effort and do-gooder inefficiency. To close many of the homelessness charities who aggravate the problem and audit them aggressively. To remove proselytising from the Homeless issue altogether – the vulnerable do not need it. And get tough with a problem that most people in the UK have had up to their necks and bloody well want solved.
As long as I live, I will continue to whine about the problem of Homelessness. I don’t give a damn about who I upset. At least, until the problem gets addressed by people who genuinely give a damn about it, understand its complexities and want it solved.
Dear Theresa, here’s another string to add to your Bow of Burning Gold. (Just think how proud your father would be of you if you helped eradicate British Homelessness and showed that capitalism can be both fruitful and compassionate.)