Homelessness and the economic crisis

August 8, 2009

"Housing is controlled by the market system, and markets don't understand people, only money", Father Terry Fitzpatrick told an August 4 Socialist Alliance forum on confronting the human cost of the economic crisis.

Fitzpatrick is a key figure in St Marys in Exile, the popular parish that was attacked by the Catholic Church hierarchy for its progressive views and rejection of church dogma. St Marys in Exile was ejected from its original premises and now operates out of the Trades and Labor Council.

Community housing worker Marg Gleeson said public housing was once a real alternative for working-class people. It now exists for only a tiny proportion of society, often the mentally ill, with huge waiting lists and little or no security, she said.

Gleeson said capitalism's profit drive was responsible for decimating public housing, and argued for action that challenged the systemic problem, not "bandaid" remedies.

Marxist academic Gary MacLennan from Socialist Alliance said housing must be taken out of the market and a massive investment made in public housing. "Let's not hear any more crap about there not being enough money — there are trillions when the corporate beggars ask for it", he said.

He urged people to hold on to socialist ideas and continue the struggle for a society based on care, compassion and social justice.

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