The house Spinoza built

I may have thought I was a bit of an odd duck for blending Spinoza with vampires, but I just found out I have a bit of competition. But these guys, at least, are far more serious about their mashup, and it’s for a much better cause.

“Equal by Design” is a documentary dealing with the affordable housing crunch in the UK and people who are working to solve it. And a running theme throughout the film are the philosophical beliefs of Spinoza, including ideas such as equality, ratio, reason and wellbeing. The ability to secure safe, affordable housing is central to a person’s ability to pursue all these higher aims, the film says.

That’s not a radical idea to people who work with housing and homelessness. “Housing first” is an approach to providing assistance holding that permanent housing must be secured before issues such as joblessness, addictions or mental health can be worked on. If you begin with joblessness or addictions, for instance, your work will be undercut because the stress of being homeless will be compounding the rest of their lives: employers will be reluctant to give them jobs, the stress of being homeless feeds into addictions, and so on. Having a safe, affordable home is central to anyone’s wellbeing. It is primary.

But “housing first” is a huge challenge when there are no housing units available. In places like London or San Francisco, where the housing market has pushed rental rates sky high and pulled any available affordable housing off the market, there simply aren’t places for people needing housing to go. What then?

Watch and consider.

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