“The housing crisis is a lie, there is no housing crisis, there are 74,000 empty homes.” Never had a truer word been said than this loud-hailed to the assembled crowd at Whitehall for the ‘March for the Homeless’. The internationally co-ordinated march on Wednesday (15 April 2015) was to highlight the increasing number of homeless deaths and the growing trend of homelessness in the last few years since austerity measures had been put in place.
About 300 to 400 people amassed outside Whitehall, but the numbers don’t do the crowd the full justice they deserve. It managed to draw in people from a number of backgrounds and campaigns; a lot rough sleepers, as well as people from the squatters and the various housing campaigns. TUSC were also on hand, in true opportunistic mode, to soak up publicity and photo-ops (is it election season?) which makes them almost indistinguishable from any other political party.
The police struggled to keep up as the march militantly held up traffic as well as moved on from place to place with the various sound systems in tour. Something of a carnival atmosphere was broken out at various times. At a later point of the day the march ended up outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, with all the accompanying chants and banter you can imagine before people started to peel-off. Maybe next time we’ll have bigger numbers…
The UK lacks a poor or a political homeless movement in the same vein as South Africas Abahlali baseMjondolo or Japan’s homeless movement. The march was definitely a positive development in that direction.