Punishment For UK Public Housing Death: A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

An entire wall of a living room is partly covered with black mould.
This scene was created by affordablehousingaction.org in accordance with the use restrictions of a Creative ML OpenRAIL-M license
When you're told that black mould is unsightly, but harmless, you know you're in safe hands, right? Wrong.

Written in 1962, Sung by Bob Dylan without lyrics relating to a Vietnam-linked future ever expressly stated, A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall nevertheless became a prophecy of the horrors of America’s lost war in Southeast Asia.

With such a vague beginning, it might be appropriately rebooted as a warning of the increasing horrors being unleashed on the poorest and most vulnerable in many wealthy countries. The Grenfell Tower Fire in London is one such atrocity.

If ‘a hard rain a-falling’ is a prophecy of this day and age, its warning may well apply to those who administer the horror. After some five years of a circular firing squad of inquiries featuring those ‘involved’ in Grenfell’s deaths and injuries, where is evidence of the consequences to all those who enabled the tragedy?

Societies in general seem accustomed to assign a certain purity of purpose to not-for-profit entities, including Housing Associations in the UK, as well as the somewhat related Housing Authorities in the United States. As far as local councils are concerned, we are somewhat forced to view them as ‘caring entities’ for they are agents of ‘we the people.’

Why then do we find councils and non-profit entities presiding over human health atrocities, not just once, accidentally, but repeatedly, year after year? After all, there are no enormous profits to be had from these enterprises — the kinds of profits associated with the hopes and dreams of ‘for-profit’ corporate enterprises.

Perhaps our failure to understand is in linking a profit motive to ‘big business.’ Building and managing social/public housing is, and was, a big business.

But suppose we dial down our imaginations, measuring potential profits to the level of the enterprise? Instead of imagining millions and billions reaped from warehousing a country’s poorest and most vulnerable, perhaps it’s more realistic to focus on individual greed. It could be measured in executive salaries that can be extracted these days from the promise (but never the delivery) of ‘well-managed’ public housing. And what about the next chapter, that sees executive exits, stage right, counting fat salary and probably inevitably, a fat severance benefit?

Or, with local councils in mind, should we be looking, not at financial gain at all, but the heady benefits of petty power and prestige?

At any rate, we may well be approaching an era when the rain will indeed by falling on public housing administrators. A coroner’s report in England concluded that mould caused the death in 2020 of a two year old boy living in public housing. The housing association’s chief executive publicly defended his record, but the housing association assessed otherwise and has fired him. Try: Moulds Don’t Bother Many But For Some In Social Housing They Are Deadly

Returning to the Grenfell tragedy and its subsequent inquiries, there may truly be hard rain on the horizon for some of those responsible, even as justice drags on slowly. Read more in The Guardian: Grenfell fire: focus shifts to possible criminal convictions as inquiry ends . . . and an older historical explanation about the inquiry and criminal investigation processes in The CONVERSATION: Grenfell Tower: criminal charges delayed, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be justice

Finally, for those unfamiliar with A Vietnam era anthem that was never deliberately tagged to the war, but might be rebooted for more modern use, from Youtube: Bob Dylan – A Hard Rains A – Gonna Fall (Lyrics)