Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Me, in the Guardian, defending social housing

Lynemouth, Northumberland, where Isos rent 200 homes
Last Wednesday was a bit of a red letter day round mine - my first ever piece in the Guardian's 'Society' pages, headlined 'Why we should be shouting from the rooftops to defend housing associations', and marking my debut as a commentator on public sector finance and provision, so fulfilling a boyhood dream... The photos illustrating the piece, as above, are taken from my book Our House, Your Home: The Past, Present & Future of Social Housing, and all are the work of the estimable Sally Ann Norman. As to the argument therein, here are a couple of preview paragraphs: 

'Social housing, then, is a cause that needs defending. Whereas mortgaged home ownership is thought to be one of our national obsessions, social housing is dimly viewed as a “residual” tenure of last resort – a political stepchild, too, its constituents uncourted at election time, unlike all those owner-occupiers in key marginals.

While Ken Loach’s 1966 BBC play, Cathy Come Home, did much to strip the scales from Britain’s eyes about the calamity of homelessness, Cathy’s fictional plight seems unlikely to greatly detain audiences of today, more routinely tickled (if not feigning to be outraged) by Channel 4’s Benefits Street. Whether we have a national consensus that social housing is an essential service, or whether societal attitudes have hardened to the point where more of us believe people have to lump whatever shelter they can access – I must say I’m not certain...'

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