The Face of the Homeless from 100 Years Ago

Eviction Pic

I found this photo from the one of the history books I have lying about the house. It’s of an old woman evicted from her house, with her possessions piled into the street from sometime before the First World War. It’s from the W.H. Smith History of the World: Vol 2 – The Last Five Hundred Years (London: Hamlyn 1984), p. 517. The caption for the photo reads:

An old woman evicted from her south London home just before the First World War: by now old-age pensions and the national insurance scheme had laid the basis of the welfare state, but few municipalities recognized a duty to house their citizens.

This is the reality of what existed before the introduction of council housing. And it’s what is returning to Britain again with the introduction of IDS’ ‘bedroom tax’, inflationary house values that only benefit the buy-to-let market, and the construction of ‘affordable housing’, which is still well above many people’s ability to purchase.

We can’t let them get away with it.

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16 Responses to “The Face of the Homeless from 100 Years Ago”

  1. Joanna Says:

    Have you seen how to get a council house, councils are wasting such a lot of money by having to pay rent for properties that they had sold to private landlords.

    It begs the question, why did they sell all that housing in the first place?

    Wouldn’t it save more money just to build more properties, to do this could they demolish derelict houses and rebuild? or have I got this all wrong, I do consider myself as a learning person

    • beastrabban Says:

      Maggie Thatcher launched the mass sell-off of council housing way back in the 1980s as part of her campaign to create a ‘home-owning democracy’. The process was then followed by New Labour under Tony Blair. Furthermore, councils have been forbidden to build more to replace the lost stock.

      As for councils paying massively to rent the properties they had previously sold off, that went on in a lot of sectors, not just housing. I have a feeling Dawn Primarolo of the Labour party supervised a deal whereby the premises of the Inland Revenue were sold off to a company based in an offshore tax haven. This was bonkers, and I’ve no idea why it was done, but fore some reason a lot of bureaucracies were doing it across business and the state sector.

  2. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political.

  3. robinmcburnie Says:

    Well at least they checked that the elderly lady in the photo was still alive. *Another* girl would’ve been born about the same time:

  4. chunkyfunkymunky Says:

    Reblogged this on chunkyfunkymunky.

  5. Smiling Carcass Says:

    Reblogged this on SMILING CARCASS'S TWO-PENNETH.

  6. prayerwarriorpsychicnot Says:

    It’s already happening. In US and Australia homeless charities are reporting a new category of homeless – the elderly, mainly women. They had standard working lives until their fifties when either they or their husband lost their job/got ill/died and they could not find affordable accommodation to move to. And cut backs are closing homeless shelters.

    • beastrabban Says:

      So that’s it – The conservatives on three continents have set us back a century already, back to Edwardian and Victorian poverty, homelessness and squalor.

      • prayerwarriorpsychicnot Says:

        “Conservatives?” You’re being kind. And we are going back to the feudal overlords of 700 years ago, not just the last century. Did they stop teaching history in school so we wouldn’t notice?

    • beastrabban Says:

      Feudal reactionaries and throwbacks to 19th century factory masters also describe them, along with other terms unsuitable for a family readership. A lot of the history teaching in schools seems to have been stopped under Blair, so that in many schools it was concentrated on the Tudors and the Second World War. I wondered if this was simply a response to the confusion over just what should be taught as history and the highly controversial debate over just what constituted British identity. Gove wants to go back to a more traditional approach to British history, which in this case means inculcating children with the ‘Whig’ view of history and how wonderful traditional British society and the social structure has been.

      • prayerwarriorpsychicnot Says:

        Teaching history will always be controversial as it lends itself to political editing. It is a pity our society had become so biased – it wouldn’t be rocket science to construct a time line of key events, with emphasis on the last 1000 years, expanded with snap shot social history for every hundred years.

      • beastrabban Says:

        No, not at all. It shouldn’t be rocked science. As I said, though, some of the controversy is over how wide and inclusive it should be, particularly when touching on race and ethnicity.. For example, one of the complaints from Black groups is that Black history is largely ignored in the curriculum. There was a specific complaint that ancient Egypt wasn’t taught in schools. I’ve no idea when this was changed, as it was when Mum was still teaching in the 1980s.

      • robinmcburnie Says:

        Gove doesn’t have a coherent idea of what he wants! Not sure he has *any* coherent thoughts at all.

        I was fortunate enough to encounter at least two teachers who challenged us to look at history from more than one perspective. The view I formed as a result is that “History” is not a fixed set of past events but rather an individual observer’s view of the past. This means that any prejudices one holds will act like filters on the view. We were taught to read about the same periods in history from a diversity of authors (not all from Oxford) and observe the different perspectives of those authors.

        One of those teachers also used get very heated when something on the news caused him to say “Didn’t they teach that —- history at school?” I can sympathise with him today, we as a society have been down the road we’re being dragged down at present. You and most who follow your blog know by now what lies down that road and it isn’t good!

  7. sdbast Says:

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  8. elizapdushku Says:

    Reblogged this on elizapdushku's World.

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