Tower Bridge in London framed just two apartment buildings in 2012. Today it's a different story.
Is London, UK and its environs the largest housing drain in the world — the leader of rapidly growing worldwide shortage?
Might be. It’s certainly a candidate for that dubious honour.
But why should we care, if we live in London, Ontario or Londonderry, or New London, Connecticut rather than London, UK?
Because housing is in danger of losing its once primary purpose as shelter — the fulfillment of a human right to adequate housing. Instead, it is rapidly becoming a commodity — a kind of cryptocurrency — Bitcoin for example, only with some entirely unnecessary features, such as toilets, gables and a front porch.
A dollar or a pound note might be backed by a metal, gold or silver. They have been in the past. And today a cryptocurrency might be backed by an expended quantity of energy. The value of other gambling investments can be, and are, backed by physical existence of a home on a patch of property.
The terribly frightening thing about this ‘financialization’ of housing is that what might have once been a form of shelter does not need to be occupied in order to act as currency. Indeed, many who speculate in the casino of housing would prefer to avoid the nuisance of having it occupied. All those continual repair needs pressed forward by finicky, whining tenants.
Let financialized housing become tumbledown, perhaps some day nothing but rubble marked out on a civic property map — just a marker of wealth that might be converted as desired (or not), like the notional value of a penny’s word of plastic in a poker chip that might or might not be cashed-in, as convenience desires. It’s perfectly possible to have a house as a such a useful marker of wealth, even though its roof leaks, its foundation crumbles and its lawn needs cutting.
Insofar as governments allow this gambling with houses to be an international endeavour, does that mean attractive low prices for housing chips in London, Ontario, Londonderry, or New London, Connecticut, serve a two-bit local market of housing speculation? Dream on. They’ll be coming for your community, be it from oceans away.
So it may well be wise to be concerned what’s going on in London, UK. Facile statements by ‘experts’ regularly report that current housing crises everywhere will be settled when a glut of houses on the free market drives down housing costs to something affordable. Except, are these ‘experts’ talking about homes to live in? Or are they talking happily about building poker chips?
Read more about the worrisome fate of homes to live in. Oh, yes, it reports that nobody local is buying new housing stock in London, UK. It’s all being snapped up by ‘offshore’ speculators.
Read a great deal more at Investigate Europe: ‘Housing has become a commodity’: how investors reshaped London’s skyline and communities