America, Too, Please Note: London UK Mayor On the Value of Public Housing

House in the Becontree Estate, South London, UK, once the largest housing estate in Europe
Becontree Estate photo by Chris Guy is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Becontree Estate of older council house cottages in South London, many now privately owned under Right To Buy. While this purchase program has been no help to retaining much needed council housing, it is a endorsement of the value of council housing communities, with millions of citizens eager to live within them as homeowners.

The Mayor of London is himself an example of the benefits of public housing, largely abandoned as unworkable in America. He grew up in one, takes pride in the fact and has great affection for their value, not only for individual families, but in creating a positive sense of community to the benefit of entire neighbourhoods.

The past few decades in the UK have seen the growth of a dismissive attitude to the value of public housing. Across the Atlantic, the same attitude infects the national American psyche. Thatcherite conservative policies have pinned great hopes on the free market and private developers to maintain an essential stock of housing for its lower income citizens. Those hopes fade with every passing day of a deepening housing crisis.

For a short pep talk prescription by the mayor of a profoundly expensive city to live in, one plagued by investors and foreign safe-house buyers that stand empty to drive up prices and drive down availability, read more in City A.M.: Sadiq Khan: Here’s My Plan To Build Housing Londoners Can Actually Afford

In 1979, 42% of Britons lived in public housing. By 2008, when the article linked below was written, the number had shrunk to 12%. What happened to public housing in the UK?

Right To Buy happened.

A ten year old article in The Guardian does an excellent job of explaining the decline of British public housing. One thing the article makes clear: warning signs about an impending housing crisis, along with a national government’s determination to ignore them, were already evident in 2008. Read more in The Guardian: Safe As Houses