Posted by: iangilbert | July 12, 2012

Homeless people and empty homes

There’s an awful lot being said about housing and homelessness at the moment, and rightly so. As my colleague David said at Tuesday’s scrutiny committee, housing is an area where none of the parties have particularly covered themselves in glory. Nevertheless the Decent Homes money that the last government provided made an absolutely enormous difference to many residents in Victoria and across the country.

But here’s another reason why when it comes to housing, not all parties are the same. Isn’t it an absolute stain on our society that we can have homes empty, people in desperate need of homes but no way to intervene to make sure they get them? Labour enabled councils to take over the running of properties that had been empty for a long time, who’s owners didn’t have the resources or the will to put them back into use.

Now very few orders have been granted under the Act, but the backstop threat to use legislation has compelled owners to bring their properties into use in many cases. Southend Council did not in my view move early or forcefully enough on this, but nevertheless there are a number of families in Southend that have a roof over their head thanks to this bit of Labour government legislation.

So what do the Conservatives do when they take office? They effectively repeal these powers. Now councils can only act if the property is causing ASB, squatting etc. Now there is nothing to stop developers sitting on empty houses as long as they like.

People say there’s no difference between political parties – well there’s one right there. We, the Labour Party passed a law to help people without homes, the Tories repealed it to help their property-developer friends.

I don’t see how anyone can be serious about helping the homeless and not find the actions of this government morally reprehensible.



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