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Kensington.--The sanitary regulations against overcrowding make it much more difficult for families to obtain accommodation. Chelsea. It is very difficult for a man with three or four children to get
Almost the only way is to take a small house and let off. St. George's, Hanover Square. It is almost impossible for a man with three children to find rooms—the landlords refuse to take them in.
Soho.—It is difficult enough for a man and wife with no children to find accommodation; it is practically impossible for a man with a family of three or four.
Hampstead.—There is an extreme difficulty for a workman with a family of three or four children to find rooms.
N. St. Pancras.- Very difficult-only lately a house was condemned, and the lodgers, having to find rooms within a definite period, were fined and imprisoned for not vacating the premises—but their non-compliance was solely due to their utter inability to find rooms elsewhere.
S. St. Pancras.--A relieving officer cannot mention a case where respectable people have been unable to get lodging. In two cases people complained that they had to go to the workhouse because they could not get rooms; in reality they were bad characters, and landlords would not take them in.
Islington.-It seems specially difficult now for a man with a small family to obtain one or two rooms at a reasonable price, children are objected to in nearly all tenement houses.
Holborn.--It is almost impossible for people with children to get rooms.
Clerkenwell.—It is difficult for people with children to get lodgings, but respectable people with three or four can generally succeed.
Shoreditch.- Where there are three or four children they can only get in as lodgers in most places by misrepresentation as to the number of children.
Bethnal Green.-A policeman, earning regular wages, has taken seven weeks to find accommodation for a wife and four children. An engineers' labourer, with eight children, was evicted from two small rooms, and was found to be living in his brother-in-law's cellar, being unable to find accommodation at a reasonable rent. Wages 218. to 228.
St. George's, East.—Man and wife and three young children, if respectable, take a house-such a party is rather objected to in the ordinary house.
Stepney and Bow.---Both assert that there is a difficulty.
Southwark.-It is difficult. A rent collector states that she requires a certain degree of respectability in tenants, but by no means an exacting standard. One well fitted to judge says it is chiefly in cases of large families and in that of people with rather unsatisfactory characters, or uncleared rent books, that the difficulty occurs; she has had houses suitable for respectable small families unlet for many weeks at a time.
Newington.-It is difficult for a man with a family to find rooms.
Bermondsey.-- People with large families and those whose character is indifferent and who have but little in the way of furniture, would no doubt be rejected in these blocks (i.e. those erected to replace demolitions). In another large block the tenants are drawn from a superior class, such as City policemen,
Vauxhall.—It is extremely difficult for a man with a family of four or five children to obtain accommodation. Cases are known to us in which such families have wandered about for days unable to get in anywbere. It should, however, be added that there is less difficulty in cases where the man is in good employment, and where the health and character of the family are good.
Lambeth.--It is very difficult for a man with a family to obtain accommoda
tion, but it is even more so for widows with families, both landlords and tenants objecting to them.
Battersea.—No special difficulty. A relieving officer reports that during the past five years he knows of no family for whom he has given a workhouse order whose inability to get apartments has not been due either to their unsatisfactory character or to their failing to pay their rent at their previous addresses.
Dulwich.—In one part“ not difficult”; in another “very and increasingly difficult. . . Some with large families stay on in dirty and inconvenient houses, as they know that it would be impossible for them to find fresh accommodation.” A relieving officer has had two cases in the last fortnight of families sent into the workhouse because they could not find rooms; one with five, the other with three children.
Greenwich. It is very difficult to get lodgings, with five or six, nearly impossible.
Camberwell.—Undoubtedly it is difficult, though less so than in some districts. Clerk to the Guardians reports six cases of application for admission to the workhouse during the year for families unable to get house room, five of them having three or four children, and all coming from very poor streets.
Poplar.—It is difficult for a man (with a family), and very difficult for a widow. The Master of the Workhouse states that during the last twelve months no fewer than six families have sought and obtained admission through inability to find local lodgings. In every case the man was in work.
Woolwich.-It is very difficult for a man with a family to find accommodation,
Here then we have the crux of the problem presented to us, and a formidable one it is. There is room and to spare for the respectable man in regular work and without “ encumbrances”; it is not he who feels the difficulty, but the man with children or without a character. How can this large and important class of the community be assisted ?
It seems clear that the erection of blocks of tenements, however great the number they can house, does not help at all ; it tends if anything to aggravate the difficulty. Such blocks are acknowledged to be impossible unless under “good management,' and good management involves selection, always as to character, and frequently as to size of family. The population of “ models,” unless they have degenerated into a state worse than the worst slums, is always a selected population : a fact to be borne in mind when considering their vital statistics. But this selected population is already amply provided for, and to build more of such blocks under good management is only to attract a new set of people into a district. Moreover, in making room for them the small houses which are the only resource of the “ rejected ” population must be cleared away (it is well known that no re-housing scheme ever re-houses the people it has dislodged). The respectable man with a family has only one course open to him in London—to rent a house; either one which will just fit his family (and these are being rapidly wiped out in all the central parts), or a larger one of which he will sublet part. But subletting is full of difficulties and temptations: the difficulties of managing lodgers, which for a man at work are very great, and the temptation to take unsuitable lodgers rather than let his rooms lie empty. It is ruin to him not to let, and equal ruin to let to a bad lodger whom he will have great difficulty in ejecting. The man who is less particular goes where there is less objection made to over-crowding, where he will be allowed to have his family in one room, and where the sanitary official has not yet become master of the situation. Such quarters are becoming progressively scarcer, hence the great pressure upon them and the increasing rents.
Another force working in the same direction as this process of selection is that of sanitary regulations. If these are successfully applied they still further diminish accommodation and restrict the use of existing accommodation; if they are evaded, the tenant pays for the risk in higher rents—he pays for permission to live in an unhealthy way in bad conditions. It is interesting to note how far sanitary authorities are able to hold their own in the struggle. Speaking generally, they have shown themselves able to deal with the difficulties of the situation, and there is comparatively little technical overcrowding over the greater part of London. But places still remain where they have so far failed to deal with "overcrowding," and when nothing but long and persistent effort will enable them to succeed. In reading the following reports as to overcrowding from different districts it should be borne in mind that while some of the answers have "technical” overcrowding in mind, others have not, so that the standard varies.
Fulham and Hammersmith.There does not appear to be much overcrowding in this district, but it obtains in a few streets.
Paddington.-Not much overcrowding except in one special district.
Soho.-Still a great deal of overcrowding in spite of decrease in population. The sanitary officials in spite of their activity are powerless to deal with such a task as lies before them. (It should be noted here specially with reference to model dwellings, that the “rooms are taken by policemen, postmen, and commissionaires. . Thus, those who may be called the children of the soil—the tailors, shoemakers, porters, odd-job men, &c., are forced back on the already overcrowded tenement houses.")
Hampstead.—Of technical overcrowding as defined by statute we have no evidence at all.
N. St. Pancras.-We are in a terribly overcrowded condition.
officer) reports that there is very little overcrowding; even in the very poor parts overcrowding is quite an exception. Another remarks that “ the condition of St. Pancras as to overcrowding is so notorious that it scarcely seems necessary to comment upon it."
Clerkenwell.-In better parts very little overcrowding. In poorer parts a good deal, especially of evicted families. It is stated by householders and tenants that the sanitary inspector is thought very difficult to elude, he always somehow hears of cases of overcrowding and turns people out. A Sister “ had never known two families in one room at a time, but knew of some where one family slept there at night, and another with a night trade by day.”
Shoreditch.--The lowest class streets and courts are much overcrowded ; there are said to be as many as forty people in some houses.
Bethnal Green.--The sanitary officials give many instances.
St. George's, East. — The Vestry has found hardly any gross overcrowding, but more families live in one room than formerly.
Stepney.-Not much overcrowding, but it would be a benefit to the people if they had or could obtain more spacious rooms.
Mile End.— There cannot be said to be much overcrowding, except in certain defined areas in which Jews form the bulk of the population.
Bow and North Bromley.—There is not much overcrowding. In West Bromley, a very poor part, there is said by the local clergy to be little overcrowding.
Southwark.—The Medical Officer of Health says there is a great deal of overcrowding.
Newington.-The Medical Officer of Health says there is a good deal of overcrowding.
Vauxhall.—The district has always been overcrowded. It is, however, the opinion of those who know it best that the overcrowding has not increased during the last few years, owing to to the increased vigilance of the sanitary nspectors.
Lambeth.—There is a considerable amount of overcrowding in the district, chiefly in rack-rented property, and where the rents are farmed out.
Dulwich.-Not general in this district, only a few cases in one or two roads Greenwich.—Not much overcrowding.
Camberwell.—Overcrowding certainly does exist, but not so bad as in other parts with the exception of one or two streets.
Poplar and South Bromley.- Very little.
Woolwich and Plumstead.—Thought to be not much, but increasing in Plumstead.
Hackney.-In parts only.
If we compare reports like these with reports of the earlier Commissions on Housing, it seems clear that though much remains to be done, the sanitary authorities have made good progress, and may reasonably hope to effect still more. The pressure exerted by them is doing its work; and though they inevitably meet with difficulties and cause distress, perhaps the difficulties and distress are not greater than those attendant upon all important reforms.
But is this pressure to be continued without any better provision for those who are dislodged? There are still insanitary areas to be cleared ; shall they not be built upon ? and shall we not insist that those who build shall accept the "rejected population and so provide a refuge for them?
I am inclined to think not; that the true policy is to continue the pressure, not suddenly, but steadily and persistently; taking the line that there are already more people than are desirable within the metropolitan area, and that nothing must be done to encourage an increase of population. Hitherto our policy-so far as there has been one-has been the opposite one of assuming that we must provide for as many people as choose to live in any part of London, with the result of conducting a stream of immigration to the very parts where it is least desirable. The accommodation which is allowed to remain must of course be reduced to order and made thoroughly healthy, and nothing will promote this end so much as leaving any areas which must be cleared as open spaces. It is not in itself a thing to aim at, that families of young children should be housed and brought up within the more densely populated districts of London; and life in “models,” undesirable for most people, is especially undesirable for children, who need above all things sunlight and playing room. Perhaps the time to look forward to is the time when it will be, not “ difficult,” but impossible, for newcomers with large families to find accommodation in London.
But is the policy a possible one? What is to become of the people if we don't allow them to overcrowd, and yet don't provide them with living room?
This difficulty would be insuperable only if London were a walled city, without means of ingress and egress. But London is not such a city; and just as people will stream in when they are invited by the offer of good accommodation, so they will stream out when it is made clear that there is no room for them. As always, it is the half and half policy which tells hardly. That the working class is not helpless when it once understands the position is evident from the emigration to the suburbs which is already set up in some quarters.
Hammersmith.—The workers here for the most part go outside the district, and there is a tendency to move still further out from London.
Stepney.—The better class of workman is certainly going out by rail, and is bringing up a healthier family in places like Canning Town, Plaistow, Stratford, and Walthamstow.
Southwark.—We know of individual cases in which families have had to move as far away as Peckham and similar suburbs.