There is a scourge of homelessness in our land today. If you have walked about Hackney, as I have for the last 25 years, you will recognise this.
When I started my career Thatcher was in power and the streets of London were carpeted with men and women in sleeping bags, largely ignored by the yuppies who were benefiting from the deregulation of the City.
“Hello, my name is Vanessa. I’m homeless.”
“Please Sir, I’m begging you.”
“They said they would come and meet me and talk about my problems, but it’s been weeks.”
“I’m sorry to disturb you all tonight but I’m homeless and I need money for a hostel. If you have any spare change or food that would be greatly appreciated.”
“I was in hospital last week. It was infected.”
“They won’t take the dog.”
“I used to work.”
“I had a heart attack.”
These are the voices. You have all heard them. They are everywhere, around Waterloo, around King’s Cross, around Hackney Central. Some of you gave money, some of you avoided eye contact and walked away. Many of you did both at one time or another. It’s inhuman and it’s understandable.
The problem of homelessness is as bad as it has ever been in Hackney in modern times. All of London would say that about London.
If only we could build 100,000 Council flats a year for the next 5 years, and do away with the Right to Buy. That would get my vote.