The repossession of homes has already been occurring at an alarming rate in both the US and Europe, now it is rising even further. Last week the UK Office For National Statistics released figures showing unemployment levels at 6.0%, with a clear indication of not only plummeting employment rates, but also a drastic fall in job vacancies. These figures were released around the same time that the UK government released its plans for threatening unemployed people back into work by means of benefit-cutting, etcetera.
According to a survey carried out by UK homeless charity CRISIS, around 10% of people are now struggling to to pay mortgage or rent arrears as a result of job losses. A third of the people surveyed expected to lose their homes within a three month period. As the recession worsens in the new year, there is a strong possibility that a homelessness crisis will develop.
Governments of all stripes in almost every country have concentrated their efforts only on trying to rescue the collapsed banking industry in the hopes that they can simply push the derailed economy back on track and carry on as before. Nothing of substance has been done to stop the collapse of small businesses that serve communities, it has been a ‘trickle down’ bailout and one where the trickle has yet to even begin.
For decades European governments have been selling off their social housing stocks or putting them under the control of housing organisations that demolish more than they rebuild and spend money only on improving the existing stock; much of the land from demolished sites is sold off to developers who build housing aimed at wealthy professionals with rents and mortages that most people simply can’t afford. Homelessness is already a problem among many groups and for numerous reasons other than job loss, yet there is already an accommodation crisis and a rise in the number of homeless persons wil bring the problem way above crisis point. It is disgusting to realise that in the richest economies in the world, thousands of repossessed homes will sit empty whilst people are registering in crisis centres and starting the new year without either accommodation or work.
Repossessions and homelessness are no longer isolated incidents with one person in a street being evicted, it is now mounting to a majority of houses per street; neighbours can no longer sit back and hope they aren’t next. It is a situation where even the so-called experts don’t know how or why foreclosures are happening (see Reuters article on minorities suffering higher foreclosure rates) .
Mass homelessness is an issue that is going to affect a majority of people the world over and it is something that will have to be fought with unity. The people of our atomized societies will need to find that new spirit of unity if they are to stop themselves becoming the victims of capitalism’s latest crisis.