Editor’s comment: Tragically Paul’s story is one of many

Paul Jarvis's story sadly is not an isolated case. Picture: HANNAH SOMERVILLE

Paul Jarvis's story sadly is not an isolated case. Picture: HANNAH SOMERVILLE - Credit: Archant

Down the road from the Gazette office in Newington Green this week, neighbours of Hathersage Court – just over the border into Islington – are protesting about plans to build 43 extra homes, including at least 19 for social rent.

They say the tallest of the seven new blocks will obscure light from the surrounding terraces and set a precedent for future developments to be too high for the neighbourhood.

Paul Jarvis’s story is a stark reminder of what is at stake if we do not get building.

As I have said time and again in this column, no one deserves to be housed long-term in temporary accommodation. That a heroin addict with lung cancer and a bacterial heart infection was discharged to a glorified building site largely occupied by drug users is a sound illustration of the housing crisis if ever I saw one.

And if I’m starting to sound like a broken record, all I’ll say is this: for every story like Paul’s – or that of Ashilee and baby Rome, who were on our front page last week – there are thousands more who don’t make it into the Gazette. Reliance on temporary housing is a type of homelessness we don’t see on the streets. That’s why we called it “hidden” in Emma Youle’s award-winning investigation. By dragging it into the open, we hope to remind people that the housing crisis is bigger than the number of people you see sleeping rough (and every single one of those is a scandal). It affects thousands of households – that is, both families and single people – in Hackney alone.

And that is the background to tales like Hathersage Court, where councils are trying to humanely squeeze thousands of homes into an inner London borough. Because the alternative is not a perfect world: it is Paul Jarvis being discharged into a dusty B&B or onto the streets.

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