The housing crisis is not something limited to inner city areas or Croydon Town Centre.
This temporary encampment was discovered in the woods of Old Coulsdon, and while no one has been observed actually living there, the careful construction and materials used indicate that it could well be the temporary home of a construction worker who has been unable to find – or afford – more conventional rented accommodation.
Michael Deacon posted the pictures on the Old Coulsdon Residents’ Association’s social media account.
Council officials are aware of the camp, since Deacon observed a card had been left. “People must be desperate if living in these conditions,” Deacon said. “Don’t think its kids as too well constructed and camouflaged.”
Deacon added further comment: “Looking at some of the materials they have used for construction, [they] may be people working on a local building site. They may be preparing site for occupation, as no signs of fires but over the last few days more materials and the tool box have arrived on site. Don’t think they’re alcoholics as no cans or bottles.”
Such is the shortage of available and affordably priced accommodation that multiple occupation of flats and the use of garages as shelters, even for families with small children, has become increasingly common in Croydon over the past few years. Private landlords have been driving up rents because of the high demand for decent homes. And the structure of social support to help provide proper housing for people is unable to cope with the demand.
In the first 18 months of the current Labour administration of Croydon Town Hall, the council built just 12 homes. Five-bed houses for £500,000-plus at Cane Hill, all built with a hefty public subsidy from Mayor of London Boris Johnson, offer few solutions to situations such as this found in Coulsdon woods nearby.
If workers in paid employment are having to resort to living in shacks in the woods, London in 2016 appears to be resembling ever more the Depression era America of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.
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