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Surviving squalor, Britain's Housing Shame

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Sunny Clouds:
I hate all these artificially created social divisions.  As you can see, for me it's the age thing I get heated about, but that's not all that bugs me, just for me the aspect that epitomises it.

Mind you, some cross-age living spaces have been experimented with, but they're private and cost a bob or two.  I'm not sure which country the concept came from but I've seen mention of a couple in this country before the pandemic.

It's where you build a complex that's got a care home that's also a student hall of residence.  The students pay for their digs by providing care.  I've also come across the notion of retirement home combined with student hall.

The reason I think of segregation in age terms is that where I am, when I was a kid when we had the luxury of playing in the streets, old people with limited ability to get out and about could keep their doors open and if it was wet or we wanted a change, we could pop in and sit with one of them. 

But then in those days most of our shopping was done at the little local shops or off the milk, bread & grocery van.  Some of the shops had deliveries by bicycle.  (Hmm, haven't I seen that again recently?)  But where's the hardship in an adult 'paying' for the 'babysitting' by doing the neighbour's grocery shopping and other things like mowing their lawn?

And that intergenerational thing can also work inter-class, but how's that supposed to happen when so much is ghettoised?

Where I live in an urban area, you can sit on a bus and go through what I think of as invisible walls dividing different sorts of people.  Some people get angry that people of a particular ethnicity seem to self-isolate.  No they don't, it's generations of immigrants of different sorts with vastly different financial and educational starting points moving into areas with relevant housing. 

See traditional housing changes over the centuries.  Not unique to the UK.  Village - someone ends up as the boss, has the  biggest house, employs (paid or as slave labour) others who live around.  Then as time goes by, he decides the area round his house has become a slum as it's become a town, so he moves outwards, maybe with others of his social class, which has also grown in number.

Then others move into where he lived.  It becomes a sort of ripple effect.  But the time comes when the bit in the middle, which had become delapidated gets pulled down, rebuilt and becomes luxury housing.  In the midst of that natural movement, it separates newcomers from existing residents.  And, as we've seen, it maps onto other social divides, including private housing and social housing, expensive housing and affordable housing.

Where I live, I map that onto things like postcodes and you've given me a very strong mental map-type image of how these clusters of sorts of people and housing are where you live.

Building mixtures of different sorts of housing, with plenty of cheap housing, enables a mixture.

Ironically, where I live, people think of my postcode area as a bit posh because it's got lots of old houses that these days would cost a lot.  I say to people that there'd have been lots of working class people here in Victorian and Edwardian times.  They're so often baffled, unless they're into history.  I ask them "Who do you think lived in the attics?  Where do you think the cooks, maids, chauffeurs etc. lived?  Even if it's  just one skivvy, it's still a working class person."

But now the 'skivvies' are supposed to live in slums or, if not, travel ridiculous distances at prices they can barely afford.  Round the country are government-financed projects to block off lots of roads and encourage cycling.  Lovely if you've the money to buy the house exactly where you want it, move as often as you want etc.  Not so fun if you're one of the growing number of supposedly self-employed delivery drivers, or a care worker paid only whilst actually at each house, not in-between.  Not so fun if you're disabled and need to go by car.

Sorry, this is a pet topic.  It's enhanced hurt-wise for me by virtue of the fact that as my father's estate is sorted out and the house prices rise, I'll probably have to move from the home I love, which, when my parents bought it, you didn't need to be wealthy to buy, but which would now cost a bob or two, even in its run-down state.  I have to keep telling myself that even if I end up in a bedsit or caravan, I'll be privileged by comparison with the many homeless, and I'll probably get a smaller house.

I say that as someone who once bought a house by working two jobs, then lost it through corruption, which left me unable to trust my local police at all. 

Sorry my brain's still not in 'keep it short' mode.

Down my maternal line we had money. When I met my ex I owned a property with only a £15,000 mortgage and inherited almost £200,000 including the equity I had in my property. My ex didn't own a bean and worked in a pen factory putting pens together. At the end of the 19 year abusive relationship I have no property and no money but I am so thankful to be free of his abuse, the living in fear and walking on egg shells that I am a happy tenant thankful for my home. However having been made homeless 3 times in two and a half years through no fault of my own, just private landlords with changes of circumstances it's not the bricks and mortar I am thankful for, but the fact that I am able to stay here and won't be moved on again and I just thank my lucky stars that I gained my secure tenancy before the government ended them.
But unlike you, I have never lived in a home with happy memories or any feeling of security so can't personally relate to missing a particular home but can relate to the need for security of housing need. You've spoken so positively about your neighbours and I can imagine that the potential loss of them will be hard and the unknown nature of future neighbours and the environment in which you find yourself. It's tough.

Sunny Clouds:
There's an old meme you can adapt to wherever you are.

One day a man meets a stranger arriving in his town.  She asks for directions, saying she's new to the area, then she asks what the people are like there.  "What are they like where you come from?"  he asks.  "Oh, they're horrible!" she replies.  He looks at her and says sadly "Yes, I think you'll find them just the same here."

He carries on his way and meets another woman who, it turns out, is also new to town and also wonders what the people are like there.  "What are they like where you come from?" he asks again.  "Oh, they're lovely!" she replies.  He beams at her.  "Yes, I think you'll find them just the same here."

Well, it's not always true, but living as I do in an urban area with lots and lots of other people, there must be some nice people in every street.

My big concern, though, based on several places I've lived, is the immediate neighbours.  You often can't tell what they'll be like.  I'm privileged here to live in a detached house with outhouses and passageways on both sides, so if my neighbours were a pain, at least there'd be a gap.

But where I am, it's the land of the semi and terrace.  My only other hope would be if I could find a pair of small semis and rent one out whilst living in the other.  If I didn't have the money for it, maybe I could get a 'granny mortgage' (= lifetime mortgage, no monthly payments, the house is sold to repay capital plus interest when you move out or die).

Aargh, why can't I live in the perfect world and have the perfect house?

Incidentally, it's not the house per se that I'm fond of here, it's things like the detached nature of it and the location on a quiet road with a mixture of housing that means a mixture of sorts of neighbours and close to public transport and facilities.  If I were mega-rich with friends in the planning department, I'd tear the house down and build a nice bungalow or a two storey house built with entrances on two levels (my garden slopes down, the lie of the ground forming a natural ramp if builders made use of it).

The first 5 or so years here I was woken at 3am every Saturday and Sunday mornings as my drunk neighbour failed to negotiate unlocking her front door due to drink having left the clubs when they closed.
One or two neighbours moaned about the disturbances but I just felt so grateful for my home having been homeless a few times that I just ignored it. My neighbours are all not nice but I keep myself to myself and just smile and say hello and love having my own secure space inside. I suspect we can all make our homes homely and ours. I'm attached to the drunken neighbour's home but thankfully she's outgrown clubbing two nights a week and now it's just an occassional night out. I'm kind of envious, I used to love a good dance! This is my first ever home where I have had nasty vindictive neighbours, I've had good neighbours everywhere else but I wouldn't want to move again.

Sunny Clouds:
I've had a wide range of different sorts of neighbours in different places where I live.

I hope desperately I won't ever have to live in a flat again, unless it's a so-called 'granny flat', i.e. a little bungalow built in a garden.  Round here, some then get sold separately from the house, with their own entrance to the road.

But then whilst here I've got lovely neighbours one side and pretty non-intrusive neighbours the other side, plus other neighbours ranging from the sort that keep themselves to themselves through to lovely, it's been pot-luck over the years living in other places.

I once rented a house where one day, lying in late, I got up, then saw movement against the light from my window and saw a man looking down at me.

I had a plastic venetian blind, with the slats open but slanted downwards inside, upwards outside.  That then provided a 'curtain' against people looking out of windows opposite of the same height and against people looking up from the street.

What it didn't provide a curtain against was the men that were, without warning, erecting scaffolding across the front of my home, on the instructions of my landlord, and looking down from outside.  It's not nice to be in the privacy of your bedroom and see a strange man looking at you.

That was an incompetent and hostile landlord, but a neighbour can be as bad.

On the other hand,  a couple of doors down from where I am now, there's a house having major renovations, including on the roof.  The workmen couldn't be more considerate.


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