To hear yesterday that 1,286 #homeless people across the UK died during 2021 (80 in Glasgow alone) enrages me. That figure represents an 80% increase on 2019 and speaks of abject failure on all our parts.

I have been there, so I speak from lived experience. I know how vulnerable people out on the streets are and of the multitude of backgrounds and causes that lie behind their plight. I heard so many stories during my time on London’s streets. Numbers were far fewer then. But I heard of horrific abuse, serial bullying, of jobs lost and homes lost.

Ten years after that experience, I was involved in setting up a housing association in Leith. This was to buy out rogue landlords, retain tenements due for demolition, and within them create desirable homes with showers, baths and running hot water. People were given secure homes in the heart of the city. I remember the joy on people’s faces when they first held the key to their new home. That was in the mid 70s and the beginning of what I thought would be a new era of top-quality affordable rented accommodation.

What I see today horrifies me. We have gone backwards and this, despite so much talk, celebrity endorsement and millions of pounds raised in support of initiatives. Meanwhile, our property obsession has accelerated, houses are now investments rather than homes, multiple ownership is commonplace and house prices are at a record high. On the other side of the coin are recently reported social rented homes unfit for human habitation, while tenants’ plaintive cries for help are dismissed or ignored.

If that is the picture today, what will it look like in a year’s time when fuel costs, rental costs, mortgage costs and living costs all rise beyond the means of many.

My most enduring pain on the streets was the feeling of having no value or significance and being treated as though I was a problem. Did I have dreams? Nobody asked me. Could I have contributed to society? Of course. Nobody asked. Did I want accommodation? Yes. But first I wanted to be treated as a human being. Never put the cart before the horse.

If we don’t act now and decisively, #CharlesDickens books will be seen not as a social commentary of his time, but as an accurate prediction of life in the 2020s

Am I right to be horrified or is this simply to be classified as collateral damage of the market #economy? #people #london #homelessness #socialhousing