Authorities told to tackle housing problems, not attack homeless

By staff writers
April 10, 2011

Housing and homelessness campaigners have strongly criticised government proposals to turn squatting into a criminal act.

London alone presently has 360,000 households on housing waiting lists and 83,000 properties which have been empty for more than six months.

Key workers are struggling to find affordable housing, and homelessness persists and grows - with Westminster City Council heading the list of mean-spiritedness by promising to make rough sleeping illegal and ban food charitable distribution to those on the streets

Rather than providing an adequate amount of social housing, people in the capital are also facing a freeze on new council homes, benefit cuts that will displace thousands of households and increase homelessness, and now a proposed ban on squatting in empty properties.

Jenny Jones, Green candidate for London Mayor in 2012, commented: "I think it's appalling that the Government is attacking people living on a knife edge."

She continued: "I don't want to see squatters take over people's homes or damage their property. But I also don't want to see people criminalised for making good use of buildings left vacant for months or years while they are unable to access a home they can afford."

"Councils need to make better use of their enforcement powers, and the Mayor needs to support local groups who can bring empty properties back into use. Let's treat the problem, not ban the symptoms," said Green.


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