A Once-Homeless Socialist Who Wants More Upscale Housing Built?

Evening walkers along a brick path between set-back low and medium rise public housing.
2019-04-FL-209548 photo by ACME is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Alexandra Road Public Housing Estate, Camden. Built in the 1970s, it was an important step away from the huge towers that are synonymous with public housing construction after WWII.

No, this isn’t about an influential person who experienced homelessness, saw the light, and embarked on a fight for the Human Right To Adequate Housing via the power of neoliberal politics and private sector investment.

Or, scratching this conundrum for a moment, maybe the story IS just as described above, in spite of the fact that all of the usual ducks don’t seem to line up in their classic row.

The locale is Camden/Camden Town/London Borough of Camden in the United Kingdom. Our rather unusual housing champion is Danny Beales, an influential Executive Councillor who ‘fronts for the CIP.’

The first article linked to this post is a local one, even as Beales is gaining national prominence (more on this later). Local media outlets often assume that every reader knows what Camden’s CIP is. As it so happens, CIP stands for Community Investment Programme, which is Camden’s war chest for housing development.

Beales and the CIP come under regular fire for planning housing expenditures that include, of all things, market rate housing. Now, Beales has impeccable credentials as a voice of experience (growing up in social housing and sharing the floor as a bed with his mum when homeless). Why does he not lean exclusively toward CIP investment in new-build and refurbished social housing?

Beales, after all, says he is a socialist. Others blow raspberries at him for the impertinence of his claim. Admitting to socialism is perfectly honourable in the UK (less so in America!). But Beale’s pragmatic snuggle in bed with free-marketeers is an unusual social activist stance, and Beale’s thoughts on this matter are worth some consideration. Read more in the CamdenNewJournal: Danny Beales: ‘I’ve been homeless… I know what it’s like – that’s what drives me’

Is Danny Beales a strictly local flash in the pan? Not so much any more. Read a second local story with a hint of fame to come as Beales may be destined to take on former UK prime minister Boris Johnson in the next election. Read more in Ham&High: Camden councillor Danny Beales on facing Boris Johnson