ok, here's an idea. Not sure how (or if!) this would work.
How about the government building housing - extremely basic - the basic premise of which is that ANYBODY can apply to get housed and live in FOR FREE.
There would of course be rules attached, and the housing wouldn't be 'desireable'. You could live there for as long as you liked, and it would have to be your main residence.
I'm thinking there would be warden control, and segregated access to different areas.
Not totally accurate, written a while back. Half of you will think I'm nut's, the other half will just hope I'm nuts.
The Future of housing - a retrospective from 2015
For years we thought we were doing well. We finally managed to save up enough for a deposit and in Late 2009, we struck gold… the government dropped the interest rates down to zero. Suddenly we could afford to buy our own home! We got a great deal… interest only, fixed rates for 2 years. By November we had moved in.
For a few years, things were fine… I even got a small promotion at work. We felt financially secure and my wife quit work to start a family. Joe Mathew was born on September 20th 2011. Then things started happening though… interest rates started to go up. It didn’t worry us at the time because we were on a fixed rate… our costs didn’t change. At the end of the 2 year period in November 2011 we had a massive shock. Our mortgage practically doubled. We had no idea what to do. We couldn’t pay the mortgage. We tried to renegotiate a deal with the bank, but they weren’t interested… they said we didn’t have “any equity”.
With a 1 year old baby still in nappies, for the first few months we paid as much as we could on the mortgage... but not the full amount. A lot of our friends were getting repossessed. The council were putting people up in hotels. Then we Missed April’s payment which put us 2.5 months behind in total, and the bank immediately repossessed. When we got the letter my wife was in tears. The council put us into a B&B, while our furniture and most of our belongings went into storage. The house eventually sold at Auction for half what we paid for it. We were devastated. The bank sent the bailiffs to our storage locker and basically emptied it of everything of value. They came to the B&B and seized all my wife’s jewellery, even the ring her mum left her. We asked the people at the bank how they could be so heartless... they looked embarrassed and said it wasn't up to them, it was the people they sold the loan to demanding every penny.
Things rumbled on with us moving from B&B to B&B every few weeks until July, when the car broke down. I phoned my boss and asked for a few days off to sort things out, especially as without the car I had no way to get to work. He admitted that things weren’t going well, and said that he would have to let me go. I knew business had been dead but I had always thought it would pick up.
After a couple of weeks the B&B told us that the council needed our room for a higher priority family, and we’d have to go. We couldn’t believe it. We walked into the council office carrying everything we owned. The council told us they had no houses or rooms available, and told us that “the homeless are being housed in the community centre”. The woman at the council looked tired. Her eyes showed she had lost the ability to care, she had seen so many people.
At the community centre there were old metal bunk-beds laid out in rows, with suitcases and boxes stacked around each one. Most were full. It was almost silent except for the sound of people crying. Sheets and blankets had been hung from the top bunks, providing what little privacy people in the bottom bunk could grasp.
Meals were provided twice a day by council workers in a truck, arriving with food prepared in the kitchens of local schools. The food was bland and tasteless… like most school food really. Most importantly for us though, the food was FREE!
The community centre filled up within a few days and they put tents up outside on the football pitch, and provided airbeds. It was the height of summer so we agreed to move outside, partly because having our own tent meant we obtained a little privacy, and little normality, but mostly to get away from the people crying. The council workers assured us it was only temporary until the council could find us proper accommodation.
After a week the football pitch was full. Two thirds of the people we saw there had owned their own homes months before, with most of the rest being tenants whose landlords had had the properties repossessed without notice. Apparently, the landlords lying on their mortgage applications meant the banks didn’t have to give notice to the tennants... in some cases the bailiffs arrived without warning as eviction noticed had gone to the landlord not the tennant.
A couple of the families we saw there had been landlords, who had problems keeping up with the payments on the rental properties they had bought… the banks had taken their homes as well as their rental properties. Now they were all practically sleeping rough, in some cases only yards from their old tenants. Riches to Rags in a matter of weeks.
Late in the sumemr, some army busses turned up. The soldiers spoke to the council workers running the centre, who looked pleased to see them.
They came onto the football pitch and announced that to ease overcrowding, people were being moved to a disused airbase 20 miles away, and asked for volunteers to move.
To be honest we were glad to go. As the numbers increased things had been getting increasingly unpleasant. There weren’t really enough toilets to go around, and there had been some thefts and some fights. The police had turned up numerous times before eventually leaving a pair of officers on site 24/7.
We packed our things and climbed on the bus which drove us a 20 other families on a cramped and bumpy 20 mile journey, which took 30 minutes but felt like 30 hours.
When we got there the truck pulled up outside a large aircraft hanger. It had a huge curved roof with grass on top.
Inside was a breath of fresh air. 12ft square areas had been sectioned off, one for each family, with beds, tables and chairs. Thick curtains separated them from each other. In a corner of each one was a blue portaloo. Our own toilet! Luxury! We chose one near the door for the fresh air and unpacked and settled in.
Quickly the hanger filled up with families. Within a week it was full. 300 families in one building. The soldiers emptied the toilets twice a week, and provided food in a large dining area outside. When it rained, tents were put up. We settled down. We knew it wasn’t forever, it was only temporary, but for now it was home.
Washing facilities were setup in a small building next door… one large are for men, one for women. Large communal showers were setup. The water was tepid at best, but after washing with a flannel in a sink for weeks it was heaven, even if privacy was non-existent. Laundry facilities were setup too. Banks of washing machines, with washing lines strung across our “homes”.
A marquee was erected as a proper dining hall and gravel was put down to prevent it turning into a mud-bath. The army setup proper cooking and dishwashing facilities. Volunteers were asked from the “guests” as we were referred to. When few people came forward, wages were offered. Then almost everyone volunteered! A few were selected, including my wife, based upon experience. (How much experience do you need to wash up?)
Volunteers were also asked for to help with “maintenance”… emptying the toilets mostly. I volunteered because we needed the money. The money was good, but it was explained to us that a portion of it (most of it after tax, it turns out) would go towards paying off our debts. Still it allowed us to buy a few luxuries for Joe from the small NAFFI shop.
The army also asked for volunteers to help on local farms, picking crops etc. A lot of people were desperate and agreed to do it, even though it was back breaking work. It wasn’t just picking crops, it was digging the soil… effectively PLOUGHING by hand. Before long most people that were able to work were doing some form of job. Every month people would be given their bank statements saying how much had been paid off.
We were free to leave the hanger and roam the airbase, (but were asked not to leave) so we spent as much time as possible outside on the grass. A small library was setup using books brought in by the “guests” so we spent most days reading. There were 8 hangers on the base, housing nearly 2,000 people in total. We learned from the radio, that there were hundreds of similar bases across the country. We felt like a community and rules were agreed, regarding behaviour and mainly noise.
In mid October the general in charge of the base came in with a mega-phone. This was not unusual, except that he had to soldiers with him, and for the first time they were armed and in full combat gear. He told us that due to problems with people leaving the base to steal food and property from the surrounding area, (Which the “guests” referred to as “foraging”… we didn’t do it, but many others did) a fence was being erected to prevent people from damaging the crops in the surrounding fields. There was a lot of shouting and throwing of toilet rolls, but quickly everyone accepted it. It was, in the General’s words “for the greater good”.
A large fence was erected, with razor wire on top and watchtower put up at the corners. We were told that we were NOT prisoners. We were free to leave if we wished, provided we had somewhere to go… a job interview, or someone we could stay with. The army even offered to arrange busses. Of course, no-one had anywhere to go.
After a couple of weeks, they apologised, and told us that they needed to make room for more people. The table and chairs went and we were reduced to 8ft square. We also had to share the toilet with the family next door as there weren’t enough to go around. We put up with it because there was no other choice… besides, it was only temporary… in a few months, we had been promised, they would find proper accommodation for us. Soon there were 400 families in the hanger… more than 1200 “guests”. The noise at night made it difficult to sleep, but I rarely noticed… I was too busy cleaning toilets.
In November an announcement was made. Due to a lack of medical facilities, people who became gravely ill would, for humane reasons, be euthanized. Everyone was outraged and a mini-riot broke out. The soldiers broke it up quickly. They explained to us that hospitals were full and weren't accepting any new patients, they simply didn’t have the facilities to treat many illnesses, and it was the only thing they could do to spare people a long agonising death. They didn’t seem happy with it either.
2 days later, an elderly lady in her 70s was given an injection to end her life. She was dying of cancer. Her family were there at the injection. She was in great pain and thanked the army field medics. She told them she held no grudge and told them not to feel bad. She apparently joked with them about her experiences as a nurse in the second world war. Her family made a speech afterwards and told everyone what happened. Half the people in the hanger were moved to tears.
Over time no-one noticed, but people were being described as “gravely ill” for less and less serious conditions. Anyone diagnosed with a terminal disease would be given 7 days to wind up their affairs. Most people just accepted it. A few people resisted, and their families were denied food until they caved in.
Pretty soon I noticed that few people over 55 remained. Simply having Flu, with the ensuing fever, was enough for someone to get the jab. “The Jab” we called it. Put to sleep. Euthanized. Killed. We lived in fear of getting ill. Then in late December, my wife woke me. “I’m burning up” she said. I checked here head… she was. I tried to cool her down, fanning her with anything I could find. The lady “next door” took her for a cold shower, but she came back looking worse. I went to ask for the medics some Paracetomol… I told them I had a headache. They gave me 4, but then followed me back to our “home” with 4 soldiers, all wearing surgical masks. I didn’t see them. As I was giving my wife the tablets they burst in.
The soldiers looked at me. They said they were sorry. They said they didn’t want to do this but they had to… they couldn’t risk her making the other “guests” sick and that is was for "the greater good". They asked me not to make it any harder that it had to be. 2 soldiers grabbed my arms and another helped my wife stand up. She went to kiss our son, asleep on the top bunk, goodbye, but the soldiers stopped her. “It’s best if you don’t, you could make him sick too” said the soldier, quietly. “look after him” she told me. And then they led her away, too ill to resist. The soldiers held me tight until she was outside the hanger. They released me and I fell to the floor. “Think about your son” they told me… “that’s all you can do”.
That was 2 years ago now. I’m not cleaning toilets any more, we’ve put in proper drains and toilet blocks. And when I say we, I mean the guests… the soldiers were good about it… they brought in tools and materials and detailed plans. The guests then got to work building toilets and showers. It was hard work but rewarding... not just the money, but there were a number of builders amongst the guests and with their help a group of us learnt the basics of bricklaying, roofing and plumbing. We ended up building Toilets, Showers, Kitchens, a Hospital, Several Banks, a Library, Tax-Office, Chapel and police station with jail. We'de created a mini-town in a matter of months... without the houses obviously.
I work in the fields now. It’s quite satisfying. The crops we produce feed people at bases across the country. It’s not a bad life, and I feel pity for those in the bases in the north… many of them have to work down the mines to pay off their debts.
Talking of debts, some people have actually managed to pay off their debts completely, and have started saving up, hoping to one day have enough to move away, rent a home of their own. But few expect to be able to... house prices and rents dropped a lot but luckily the government demolition programs stabilised them. At best, I hope to save up enough that when Joe is 18 or 20 he will have enough for a deposit to rent a house. I go down to the base bank once a week and they tell me how much of my debt I've paid off, and how long it will be until I've finished and can start saving.
If I keep going at the current rate I will have paid off my negative equity in another 2 years, then I can start saving and give my son the best chance in life, a chance I thought I had, until the day the credit stopped.