Housing, Homelessness, Commercial Development and Neoliberalism

Housing, Homelessness, Commercial Development and Neoliberalism

camping homelessness
The housing market has become an insidious game that is at the behest of neoliberal technocrats. The so called mum and dad investors, attempting to grow personal wealth and security by using tools like negative gearing and CGT are but minnows in a much bigger system.
The housing market has become one of the central pillars of global capitalism and neoliberalism.
That has occurred right around the world — in a range of ways.
Those most affected are people with low incomes or those in socially vulnerable situations.
This risk manifests itself most notably in one central aspect of these people’s lives: the places where they live. The place they call home.
Right around the world, thousands of people have lost their houses and, for lack of any alternative, have ended up on the street. As a result, the rise in number of people experiencing homelessness is global phenomenon; it has caused a massive global housing crisis.
Today we see the complete subjugation of urban and social policy to an all consuming monster, the financial and housing market.
This is evident not only in the issue of housing but, most notably, with the building of large-scale commercial projects such as office complexes, hotels and expanding shopping centres (in Perth, you just need to look at Carousel, Garden City and now Midland Gate!).
The key objective is return on global capital, and not, in any respect, to address the needs of the local population. And yet the processes are interconnected. That is to say, the expansion of the financial sector by way of large-scale projects involves the taking over of whole areas previously occupied by workers, low-earners and migrants; not to mention how development takes precedence over basic community infrastructure, like: parks, gardens, ovals and public toilets.
People are driven out of inner city social housing in favour of urban elites and forced to buy houses on the fringes of suburbia.
Despite the legal and planning protections – which lay down a social function for the ownership of property – we unfortunately arrive at the subjugation of cities to a neoliberal agenda. This means that  urban development is subordinated to the housing and financial sectors. The legal and planning instruments that have been established over time are simply not applied in practice. They hardly even serve as a mechanism of protest and protection for concerned citizens; let alone being an instrument  that can actually determine, control and lead urban policy.
Communities of citizens need to be able to reclaim space for the common good and thus create alternatives that promote health and well-being.
I suggest that the dominance of the financial sector over housing policy is dead.  It holds absolutely no solutions for the tangible needs of citizens in a civil society.
Stephen Hall
Stephen Hall
Lives in Perth, Western Australia.

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