WATCH: ‘Mould is Political’

Over 2 million people in the UK live with black mould in their homes. This is causing serious health problems, with the most severe cases resulting in death. As part of the Homes for Us alliance, we have released a new short documentary, ‘Mould is Political’. Produced by tenants and health workers fighting for healthy homes, it demonstrates how black mould is impacting people’s lives and health.

On March 13th, the Homes for Us alliance projected clips from the documentary onto Parliament to make our demands clear. Please share the video as widely as you can!

Mould is political

Insecure, unsafe and unaffordable homes are harming us and shortening our lives. 

Over 2 million people in the UK live with black mould in their homes. These damp, mouldy homes are harming health and cutting lives short.

Whilst mould and damp present a serious health hazard, there is an urgent need to move housing and health discourse beyond simply the presence of symptoms. We must move towards interrogating mould as the result of a political system that enables its spread.

Mould thrives in certain environments and conditions. It thrives in homes rendered cold by poor insulation, exorbitant rent and energy prices. It thrives in an environment where a Section 21 notice can be issued when a tenant complains, only for a new tenant to move in. It thrives in a system where alternatives are dire due to unaffordable rent. It thrives in a system where any developer can turn a commercial building into homes with no scrutiny in planning permissions. 

Mould has crept into our lives, exemplifying the success of the few at the cost of the health of thousands, if not millions of others. And like mould, an ideology has proliferated – one that has turned homes into a commodity, a privilege, a financial investment, and ultimately a vehicle for profit. The damp and mould crisis is a symptom of a political system that produces mass illness and entrenches economic and health inequalities. 

It is perhaps time that we start thinking of the mould scandal – and the housing crisis more generally – as a form of violence that is supported and promoted by those that put wealth before health. Mould is stealing children’s futures, shortening and taking the lives of others, and the only solutions come by means of political interventions. If we want to address the mould epidemic, we need to address its political origins. Mould is political. 

Austerity and the commodification of housing has turned the domestic into a site of illness, violence, precarity, insecurity, and in some cases death. The so-called housing crisis makes the spaces in which we live damp, mouldy, insecure and impossible to afford. The housing system prevents vast numbers of families from simply feeling at home, and calling the place they live a place of safety.

We need urgent political action to respond to the public health crisis that health workers are witnessing. This requires rethinking housing beyond commodification and taking action to reclaim it as a public health asset. We need to reclaim housing for health.

There are immediate steps the government can take to transition from commodification towards collective health: 

  1. We need at least 2 million social homes to be built, as soon as they can be: The government should prioritise funding social housing and accept that this means bringing back pre-2010 levels of funding for building and maintenance.
  2. Rent control powers: Devolved to regional authorities to make sure that private rents are reasonable and stop driving the cost of living crisis.
  3. End the sell-off of affordable homes: Devolution of powers to end Right to Buy to councils and local authorities, with an eventual end to Right to Buy.
  4. A national retrofitting scheme: To make houses warm, healthy and energy efficient – helping to reduce carbon emissions as well.
  5. Public buy-back of poor-quality private rentals: Moving poor quality and unaffordable homes out of the private sector, to provide high quality, affordable social homes.
  6. Tax landlords fairly: Implement a fairer taxation policy on landlords and property investors, to remove incentives for property hoarding, and to provide a funding stream for building the affordable homes we need.

It will take a movement, with tenants, health workers and all sectors of society working together to shift the narrative and end the public health crisis in housing. Here’s how you can get involved:

You could also screen Mould is Political at a local meeting or event! If you want to know how, or if you have questions about getting involved with this work, get in touch with Jordi at [email protected].