We should be ashamed by society's acceptance of homelessness

London Councils has warned of a potential rise in homelessness this summer

Homelessness and rough sleeping should make us ashamed of our society - Credit: Nick Ansell/PA

We should all be ashamed that we live in a world where people sleep rough.

And it shouldn't take a young man diving into a fire in Belsize Park and helping to rescue a vulnerable woman to remind us of this.

The ban on evictions during the pandemic quietly ended on May 31, and councils across London have warned there could be a new "wave" of homelessness.

Frankly, writing that almost doesn't register in the way it should.

I fear I have, like almost everyone else in our society, become too used to homelessness being a thing that we just accept and walk past.

People are sleeping rough - that simply shouldn't be a thing. 

In the aftermath of the Belsize Park fire last Wednesday, as Jordan Winslow's actions came to light, there was chatter on social media about crowdfunding to help him. 

Of course, we should do whatever we can to support people like Jordan - but it should not be down to the generosity of individuals in an isolated, exceptional case to help someone find somewhere to call home. 

We need to look closely at ourselves and our attitudes to the people we walk past on the streets every day. We fail them every time we walk past and, perhaps, avoid someone's eyes or think better of helping out with some cash. 

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Housing should be a right that local and national authorities actually uphold. It shouldn't be a right that can be withheld. So-called "no fault evictions" must be scrapped, and the government can't give landlords a backdoor option to replace that. 

Locally, groups like Single Homeless Project, Streets Kitchen, the Simon Community and New Horizons do incredible work to help people who need a roof over their heads. 

We need to do more to support them - but we also need to make sure the third sector doesn't need to work so hard to help people suffering in the housing crisis. 

That means supporting the building of genuinely affordable housing and changing our attitudes towards people sleeping rough.

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