Here’s a scenario; you’re woken in the middle of the night by noises elsewhere in your house. Your partner, the only other person in the house, is asleep in bed next you. What do you do? Call the police? Sneak out of bed to investigate? Do what my wife does, and wake me up, arm me with a pool cue, and then send me to deal with it? All valid options (although, unless you’re my wife, sending me personally may be inconvenient and involve quite a lot of travel).
While you decide whether to call for me, and my trusty pool cue of household defence, lets switch to another problem, homelessness. Every night in this country tens of thousands sleep rough. At the same time millions of households go to bed, confining themselves to just a couple of rooms, and leaving the rest of their warm, dry, safe home unused.
Obviously there’s a solution here. If everyone just left their doors unlocked at night then anybody in the area without a home could just let themselves in and crash out on the sofa. One of our major social problems could be solved at a stroke, and for no cost at all.
I’m not naïve, I can see that some people from the privileged class (those with a home) might object, but these legitimate concerns are really just punching down against a marginalised community (the homeless).
The concerns aren’t even legitimate. It would still be illegal to steal from your house, illegal to threaten or hurt you or your family, illegal to cause any damage to your property. Your enjoyment of your home wouldn’t be impacted in any way at all.
Let’s face it, burglaries haven’t been stopped by it being illegal to come into your house, have they? And there are already plenty of easy ways to get to you and your stuff. You don’t have steel bars on your doors, or shutters at your windows, but you feel comfortable slamming that door in the face of someone who just wants somewhere to sleep.
Plus, all of the statistics show that homeless people are far more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators of it. Nobody is going to pretend to be homeless, with all of the stigma that entails, just to steal your shitty telly, Karen!
I think it’s safe to say that anybody objecting to this plan is doing so purely on the ground that they hate the homeless and want to protect their own privilege, in exactly the same way that bigots didn’t want ethnic minorities moving into “their” neighbourhoods. It is literal racism.
Back then to our original scenario.
Heard a noise downstairs? Relax, it’s probably just a member of a marginalised community using their new legal right to find somewhere to sleep.
Voices? Yeah, well you’ve got friends and family, and homeless people are allowed the same.
Sounds like they’re searching around? So what? Perhaps they’re going to make themselves a sandwich. OK, that’s technically theft, but what kind of bitch would you have to be to call the law on someone who maybe hasn’t eaten for days?
Footsteps coming up the stairs? They’re doing nothing wrong and are entitled to be there. They probably just need to use the bathroom. You’re not going to make your visitors go outside to do that, are you?
Your bedroom door is opening? Perhaps they can’t find the bathroom. They don’t have a floorplan of your house, you know.
Someone coming into your bedroom? Could be they just want to ask if it’s OK to make themselves a sandwich. How nice of them, and after you were ready to call the police on them just a few sentences ago. Hope you feel disgusted in yourself now.
Knife against your throat? They’re probably terrified. Remember, they’re at far more risk of violence from you than you are from them. Just be kind and put them at their ease.
Of course, in the very unlikely event that a homeless person (or, more likely, someone pretending to be homeless) does hurt you, then you haven’t lost your right to call the police. In fact, you’ve lost nothing. Nothing at all.