Azara Blog: Shelter wants better housing

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Date published: 2005/10/24

The BBC says:

Shelter has called for more affordable family-sized housing after a survey on the extent of overcrowding in England.

Children were sleeping with their parent or parents in three-quarters of the 505 overcrowded households that completed the housing charity's survey.

A quarter had children sleeping in living or dining rooms and a tenth had teenagers of different sexes sharing.

Shelter said: "In 21st Century Britain, having adequate space in which to live ought to be a realistic expectation."

"For one in 10 children in this country, living conditions have more in common with the Dickensian era, when the statutory definition was first drawn up, than those expected of a modern, thriving nation," director Adam Sampson said.

"The health, education and future chances of thousands of youngsters are being blighted by cramped conditions."

In all, 77% of those who responded to Shelter's questionnaire strongly agreed that overcrowding harmed family relationships.

Some 81% said there was no room for their children to play and 71% that overcrowding affected the health of family members.

Respondents from black and minority ethnic groups were twice as likely as white British families to be severely overcrowded - defined as lacking two or more bedrooms under the Bedroom Standard.

Shelter has called for more "affordable, family-sized homes with adequately sized rooms, storage and outside space".

Of course Shelter has only looked at the extremes ("overcrowded households") so not surprisingly has found extreme answers. But if you asked almost anyone in Britain they would tell you they do not have enough space. And calling for "affordable, family-sized homes with adequately sized rooms, storage and outside space" sounds so ridiculously obvious you wonder how it could not already be happening. But in fact under New Labour, central government, the developers, NIMBYs, local authorities, urban planners and so-called environmentalists have conspired together to build smaller and smaller houses with smaller and smaller plots, all under the guise of "sustainability". So tough luck to the citizens of Britain, especially the working class and the poor non-working class: put up with what the ruling elite has decided you should put up with or get lost. Shelter is fighting a losing battle against the entrenched interests of the powerful, although of course Shelter really only cares about the bottom of the pile, so might make some headway for this small group for politically correct reasons. (And the results quoted for "black and minority ethnic groups" are hardly surprising given that on average they are poorer than "white British families". You wonder why anybody has to point out this division, except in readiness to play the race card.)

There is one unfortunate apparent request by Shelter:

[ Shelter ] would like increased measures to discourage private owners from leaving houses empty.

Now houses are empty for all sorts of reason. For example, people die and the people who inherit the house take some time to decide how and when to sell it. What is meant by "increased measures" is yet more legal rights for government to steal private property (and no doubt give it to their developer friends who will make a tidy profit). This is not the "solution" to the problem. The real solution is releasing more land for building.

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