We have chronic homelessness because we want it.
The only way to reduce homelessness is to create more accommodation at lower prices. But the law of supply and demand says you can’t do that without lowering the value of all the existing accommodation. All the land hoarders speculating on future prices, and all the people who squeezed onto the property ladder in the madness of the last 20 years, have a vested interest in keeping prices high. If prices go down they are somewhere between losing the nice little nest egg they’ve accumulated (if they bought 20+ years ago) and losing their shirt (if they are still trying to climb out of negative equity).
All of these people will say they only want to be treated fairly. But there’s no getting away from the fact that “fair” treatment for them means massive rents for others and a whole lot of people have to go without accommodation at all.
When will this change? When more people – or rather more people who vote – are being screwed by the system than are benefitting from it. (I count the people in NE as benefitting from the system, as without current high prices they’d be even worse off).
In that light, you can see most government house building efforts as a cynical divide and conquer tactic. If you give people social housing you take them out of the equation – they’re alright Jack, and are no longer lost votes. Then limit the affordable housing to people satisying income criteria. More people peeled off. All you have to do is keep the size of the screwed middle below the critical vote-losing mass. By having two artificially separated housing markets the “haves” keep their expensive property, the “have-nots” are bought off. (You also cripple social mobility, but that’s a small price to pay so that the “haves” keep on having).
The government are running scared in case they’ve let the screwed middle grow too large. That’s why there’s suddenly money for social and affordable housing. But there are probably better ways to cure the housing crisis. Some of them have been discussed on this forum. Will the government ever adopt them? Not on your nelly. It would be political suicide. Because we want homelessness. We don’t think we do. We certainly don’t say we do. But we do.