This shouldn’t need doing as Poppy Noor does in fact have the background and knowledge here. It’s rather that she chooses not to use it instead of her actually not knowing.
Why do we have so many homeless in Britain? By which we both mean rough sleepers, not those Shelter talks about, those who have housing that’s not quite up to scratch. Why those four to eight thousand sorta numbers sleeping outside on any one night?
Sadly, it seems it’s easier for us to pretend that homeless people aren’t people than to face our guilt that thousands will sleep tonight with no roof over their head in the fifth largest economy in the world.
It’s not actually an economic problem. Or not directly at least. It’s not something that’s going to be solved by more, cheaper or State housing either. Not without a significant caveat.
That rough sleeping population consists, largely enough, of two groups. There’re the runaways, evictees, those fleeing abuse and so on. These people tend to be out there a night or two. The varied systems to find and aid them work really rather well. Sure, we can argue that no bad thing should ever happen to anyone but that’s more than a tad unrealistic. What matters more is what systems we’ve got to aid people when bad things happen.
To mention Shelter again, they tell us that there are hundreds of thousands homeless. By which they actually mean in accommodation less than perfect for their needs, including people in hostels and shelters at public expense. This is evidence of us dealing with the problem of homelessness of course. They’re not out there rough sleeping, are they? They’ve a roof, however much we can argue that it should be a better one.
Which brings us to our second group of rough sleepers. After those transients through the status there’s a harder core of people who are out there for some time. And absent significant mental health or drug and alcohol addiction problems there aren’t any of them. Or, to say the same thing the other way around the longer term rough sleepers are nuts, drunk or stoned. The problem here is not in finding them a bed under a roof. Nor even a flat or a bedsit they can settle into. It’s in keeping them in such once they’ve got one.
No, I’m sorry, this is true. There is pretty much no one out there sleeping rough long term for economic reasons. We deal with that already. What we don’t deal well with, since care in the community and the closure of the asylums, is those who cannot, or will not, deal with the basics of keeping the necessary rules of having a home.
Which is the caveat about more housing not solving the problem. Sure, more institutionalised housing might make a dent in the problem but more independent housing won’t.
Long term rough sleeping isn’t an economic problem therefore there’s no economic solution to it.