Originally posted on August 15 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
Cathy Come Home has lost none of its power as it nears its 50th anniversary. As everyone in housing knows, the classic BBC play brought homelessness to national attention. Shelter was founded a few days after its first transmission, Crisis a year later and many housing associations at around the same time.
There are currently three different ways to watch again: the original BBC play by Jeremy Sandford and Ken Loach is on iPlayer, a stage version by Cardboard Citizens will be on tour over the Autumn and Winter and its production is also available on YouTube). Housing associations with a connection have also formed the Homes for Cathy group to raise awareness.
Watching the original for the first time in years, it was obvious that Cathy is still just as hard hitting as an exposé of what happens when a family slip through the safety net. Her harrowing descent from flat to squat to traveller camp to hostel was watched by 12m people in 1966 (a quarter of the population) and they got the message that housing matters.
In that final scene at Liverpool Street station, Cathy’s kids join the other 4,000 that the commentary tells us are taken into care each year because their parents are homeless.
Originally published on February 25 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
If the government provides Help to Buy for first-time buyers why not Help to Rent for homeless people?
A new campaign from Crisis says it is becoming harder and harder for homeless people to get a place to live because most landlords think it’s too risky to rent to them.
‘Home: No Less Will Do’ is supported by the leading private landlord associations and calls on ministers to give homeless people looking to rent the same kind of support as they offer first-time buyers and to introduce a Welsh-style homelessness prevention duty.
As things stand, they are caught in what Crisis calls the ‘homelessness trap’: the private rented sector may be their only hope of a home (especially if they are single) but they struggle with upfront costs; and welfare reforms are making landlords less likely to want to rent to them.
The potential consequences – and the timeliness of the campaign – are underlined in new figures published on Thursday showing that rough sleeping has risen by 30% in a year and has doubled since 2010.
Originally posted on December 21 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
When Chris Holmes died this time last year we lost one of our most passionate advocates for better housing and against homelessness
A collection of essays in his memory published today reflects on an extraordinary career that spanned the voluntary sector, local government, housing associations, co-operatives and community activism as well as roles advising central government and on housing commissions. That combination of campaigning, policy, politics and practice is rare enough in any career but the essays also reveal a bigger story (much of it new to me) about what can be achieved with the right mix of principles, purpose and pragmatism. ‘Furious commitment’ is what Jeremy Swain calls this ability to go beyond outrage and get things done.