Opinion

All housing doesn’t mean good housing. We can't let people live in squalor

Kwajo Tweneboa, 23, has been on a one-man mission to raise awareness of the horrendous conditions thousands of social housing tenants are living in. Here he discusses what he's seen.

Kwajo Tweneboa, a young social housing campaigner.

Kwajo Tweneboa, a young social housing campaigner. Image: Supplied

From my own personal experience, and after speaking to thousands of social housing tenants over the past few months, I’ve learned that ‘any housing isn’t always good housing’.

It’s always said that you’re really lucky to be a social housing tenant in the UK, however the reality for many is that it’s a living hell.

We all have an idea of our ‘dream’ home and living comfortably, but for many of the people I’ve spoken to their living situations have left them suffering with depression and other mental health issues and physical issues.

Yet they still continue being ignored by many social housing providers, MPs and the government. From living with faeces pouring down their walls to being crushed by kitchen units poorly attached by social housing providers, to living with mice, rats, cockroaches, damp and asbestos – it is a long list.

I’ve spoken to residents who say they’d much rather drive around the city than go home early and be forced to stay in an environment that is unsafe and depressing. It’s more common than most think.

Social housing is thought to be there for some of the most vulnerable and in-need individuals in our country, from the poor to disabled, terminally ill to people who have had rough childhoods.

Yet they are subject to living conditions not even fit for animals. If it was possible for them to rent privately then a lot of them would. But with disgracefully high private rental prices, particularly in London and other big cities in the UK, it’s impossible.

These tenants are forgotten and expected to put up and deal with it. The current state of UK social housing and housing in general is no doubt the worst it’s ever been.

It would be wrong to suggest and very naïve of one to believe ‘any housing means good housing’. I wish this wasn’t the case. We can’t let people live in squalor.

Kwajo Tweneboa can be found tweeting about social housing conditions at @KwajoHousing.

This article is taken from the latest edition of The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach local your vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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