Robin Williams and the ending of homelessness

The actor, Robin Williams, who died last year, gave evidence in 1990 to a United States Senate hearing on the prevention of homelessness. Homelessness was something he felt strongly about and, I read this week, used to stipulate in his movie contracts that a certain number of jobs should be given by the producers to homeless people. Other stars stipulate champagne, thick pile carpet, large dressing rooms, fresh roses.

In his testimony to the Senate, Williams said about the prevention of homelessness: “You can’t keep picking people up; you have to stop them from falling.”

In the UK we do a lot of great work helping people to get off the street. In Brighton and Hove there is excellent collaboration between organisations, including the City Council, to address rough sleeping. I am not sure whether, as a result of the impending cuts, enough will remain to effectively prevent homelessness. Hopefully I will proved wrong on this.

One thing I would love to see politicians commit themselves to, as we approach the general election, is the end of homelessness, once and for all. It would require determination and a bit of funding. It is funny how there is always enough money when it comes to fighting wars or the pet projects of politicians. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if politicians were to say that reducing the structural deficit would come after everyone had a home which was affordable, properly maintained, and which they could afford to heat.


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