Okay, not the prettiest photo you’ll ever see, but it makes my point:
Which is that homes for the homeless have got a lot better lately. In two big ways. First, as you see in the above photo, shelter is now something you can just plonk down on any piece of land that is flat.
It is no part of my purpose in showing you this man’s home to make difficulties for the man himself, and I also didn’t want him even feeling threatened when I took the photo. So, I contrived to hide him (and myself as seen by him) behind that big black rectangular lump there. He couldn’t see me, and you can’t now see him. But I think you can see that what we’re looking at, in the autumn gloom at the top end of Tottenham Court Road last Thursday late afternoon, is a home.
The other thing that has got a lot nicer about living like this is mobile electronic communication. You can now live like this, instead of merely existing. You needn’t just sit there, hoping for nice weather. You can do all those things in those articles and diagrams and photos concerning all the clumsy great gadgets that have now been replaced by your mobile phone.
I’m not saying that living this way is easy or comfortable, merely that it has got less difficult and less uncomfortable in recent years. I’d hate to have to live this way. But if I had to, I would find it that little bit less miserable than it was a few decades ago, when electronic communication was implacably immobile, and when erecting a tent meant finding a grassy field that you could bang tent pegs into.
What all this means is that, if all other things are equal (which they never are but let’s be economists and pretend this for a moment), more people are going to be living like this than used to, thirty years ago.
See also this earlier posting, featuring a Michael Jennings photo of a tent erected next to a private jet.