Occupy London expresses its support for the massive and growing numbers of homeless people in London and in Britain as a whole.
Having a home is a fundamental human need and right. Only with adequate housing can people successfully contribute to their community in a meaningful way.
Many homeless people have become part of Occupy London and through this have found a sense of community and increased optimism. Many occupiers have unintentionally become homeless during their involvement in Occupy London. In essence, a part of the homeless has become Occupy London, and a part of Occupy London has become the homeless. Together we call for social and economic justice.
Occupy London intends to highlight the issue of homelessness and of eviction of homeless persons from refuges such as St. Paul’s Churchyard. We abhor the violence and intimidation that occupiers and homeless people, around the world, have been subjected to.
Occupy London has been providing tented accommodation for between 30 and 70 homeless people staying at the St Paul’s Occupy site. These people will be affected by eviction of OLSX. We believe that the City of London has a duty of care towards them and that they should be offered accommodation that ensures their safety, dignity and freedom – that is, in homes, not hostels.
Existing systems and shelters fail to provide homeless people with support, access to acceptable shelter, and homes. The hurdles that homeless people have to overcome are too high; they are unnecessarily bureaucratic and dehumanising. Hostels can be dangerous places and are often not available unless a person has a history in the local area.
Homes are being lost because of cuts to housing and other benefits, because of job losses, wage cuts, loss of council housing and mortgage default repossessions. Landlords and the rents they charge remain unregulated and in some cases landlords are unscrupulous, without compassion and even exploit the social welfare system.
Occupy London calls upon the City of London, on the Greater London Authority, on local and national government, on churches and on businesses to open up vital space for short-life and long-term housing schemes so that empty buildings can be put to good use and self-help communities can be established.
There are nearly 1,000,000 homeless people in Britain and 2,000,000 families in need of suitable housing; yet there are over 7,438 hectares of public land, 930,000 empty homes and many other empty buildings that could be used to provide homes.
The money to tackle these problems and implement solutions does exist. Billions in bonuses, executive pay, tax havens and corporate profits could be put to wiser and wider use.
[Homeless people include rough sleepers, sofa-surfers, hostel dwellers, those sleeping in other insecure and unsuitable places and those who are considered to be of ‘no fixed abode’.]