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Is This The Promised Land? Daily Mirror headline on public housing
I can get along very well without even going out of my own house. With a bowl of soup and three old brushes, you can make the finest landscape ever painted. Egar Degas, cited Ambrose Vollard, An Intimate Portrait
A man’s house is his castle. Edward Coke, English judge, 1644
What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on? Henry David Thoreau, Familiar Letters
Do you know what it means to come home at night to a woman who’ll give you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you’re in the wrong house, that’s what it means. Henny Youngman
Crime Families ... Their mother burned down the house in an effort to move up the housing list. A Very British Gangster 2007 starring Dominic Noonan et al, director Donal MacIntyre
Britain would become a land fit for heroes. New homes were built. David Dimbleby, Seven Ages of Britain: Age of Ambition, BBC 2010
Owen’s first step was the improvement of workers’ homes. Ian Hislop’s Age of the Do-Gooders 1/3, BBC 2010
Hill went from strength to strength. By the early 1880s 378 families were living in homes run by her. ibid.
Six million houses were built during Victoria’s reign. Jeremy Paxman, The Victorians: Painting the Town: Their Story in Pictures, BBC 2009
The Suburb was a brilliant invention. ibid.
These were the Wimpey years, when brand-new estates and neat little houses blossomed on the suburban fringes of the nation’s cities. Dominic Sandbrook, The 70s I: Get It On 70-72 ***** BBC 2013
Gentrification – and inner-city Britain would never be the same again. ibid.
So why did these new estates deteriorate so badly so quickly? Dominic Sandbrook, The 70s: The Winner Takes It All 77-79
The provision of new housing: a new generation of architects was ready. Heritage! The Battle for Britain’s Past III: Broken Propylaeums, BBC 2015
If you’ve seen one slum, you’ve seen them all. Spiro Agnew
We got a letter from the council. They’re going to demolish the house tomorrow. The Young Ones: Demolition ***** Vyvyan, BBC 1982
They’re going to find it already demolished from within. ibid. Vyvyan
It says we’re a health hazard. ibid. Mike with letter from Council
House. House. House.
Oh, you are made of stone.
But you’re not a lonely house. ibid. Rick crucifies himself to front of house
Oh bloody heck! Is this the new house? The Young Ones: Oil ***** Rick
Why did you throw the toilet out of the window? ibid. Rick to Vyvyan
The tenants cannot now ask for repairs, for a decent water-supply, or for the slightest boon in the way of improvement. They must put up with dirt, and filth, and putrefaction; with dripping walls and broken windows: with all the nameless cedents, were they known, would make a careful householder nervous about asking them into his hall if there were any coat and umbrella about. George R Sims, Legislation Wanted, Not Almsgiving
We walk along a narrow dirty passage, which would effectually have stopped the Claimant had he come to this neighbourhood in search of witnesses, and at the end we find ourselves in what we should call a back-yard, but which, in the language of the neighbourhood, is a square. The square is full of refuse; heaps of dust and decaying vegetable matter lie about here and there, under the windows and in front of the doors of the squalid tumble-down houses. The windows above and below are broken and patched; the roofs of these two-storied 1 eligible residences look as though Lord Alcester had been having some preliminary practice with his guns here before he set sail for Alexandria. All these places are let out in single rooms at prices varying from 2s. 6d to 4s. a week. We can see a good deal of the inside through the cracks and crevices and broken panes, but if we knock at the door we shall get a view of the in-habitants. George R Sims, How the Poor Live, and Horrible London
Between 1981 and 1987, the US federal government showed its commitment to the free market by cutting its spending on housing from eight billion dollars to three billion. Housing for the poor, which had to be subsidised, was cut from 20,000 units a year in the 1970s to 5,000 a year in the 1980s.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pursued exactly the same free-market policies in Britain, with exactly the same results. Perhaps the most astonishing feature of the great decade of the free market in Britain was the increase in the numbers of poor and homeless people. At the start of the decade, 6.1 million people were living on or below the level at which they were entitled to supplementary benefit. By 1985, this had grown to 9.4 million, and has been growing ever since.
As in the United States, Margaret Thatcher’s interpretation of the free market is that only people who can afford expensive housing really want or need houses. Under her guidance, councils have been almost completely prevented from building subsidised houses to rent. For the first time since the 1880s the streets of central London are filled with hungry, homeless people, begging for money for a meal and preferring to risk the elements rather than spend their pittance on an insanitary and dangerous dosshouse.
This astonishing increase in the starving millions, with all the indescribable wretchedness and hopelessness which goes with it, is the chief achievement of the free market in its Great Decade. Its supporters, led by the American president and the British prime minister, have from time to time harked back to that famous dictum of Christ: ‘the poor ye have always with you’. Jesus Christ, who, if he existed, was certainly poor, seemed to be saying that since there was not enough to go round, some people were bound to end up with next to nothing. Like so many of the remarks attributed to him, this one has been taken up by supporters of the free market everywhere to blame poverty on the poor themselves: on their own fecklessness and inability to ‘better themselves’. Paul Foot, The Case for Socialism ch4
When someone tells you they’ve just bought a house, they might as well tell you they no longer have a personality. You can immediately assume so many things: that they’re locked into jobs they hate; that they’re broke; that they spend every night watching videos; that they’re fifteen pounds overweight; that they no longer listen to new ideas. It’s profoundly depressing. Douglas Coupland, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture
Macro US Economics: A Froth-Finding Mission: Detecting US housing bubbles. HSBC global research January 2006
A great deal these days is written about the slums. Housing Problems, short 1935
‘The problem of the slum faces us because in the early days rows upon rows of ugly, badly designed houses were hastily put up to provide accommodation for the ever increasing army of workers which poured in from the countryside.’ ibid. Councillor Lauda, chairman Stepney Housing Committee
‘This house is getting on my nerves … The upstairs is coming downstairs where it’s sinking … everything’s filthy. Dirty filthy walls and the vermin in the walls is wicked. So I tell you we are fed up.’ ibid. Mrs Hill
Housing Problems is a bit like a corporate video ... A new form of documentary bursts through: the interview. Britain Through a Lens: The Documentary Film Mob, BBC 2011
I am Dracula, and I bid you welcome, Mr Harker, to my house. Come in, the night air is chill, and you must need to eat and rest. Bram Stoker, Dracula, Dracula to Jonathan
The family constitute one community, the staff another. This is the way to plan a gentleman’s house of a better sort. Robert Kerr 1864, The Gentlemen’s House
The big change after the War, apart from the welfare state, was the huge house building programme. Tony Benn