I've been arguing with a few Green Party supporters over the plan to store surplus poor people in shipping containers. My point is there's a massive surplus of houses (in Brighton, 4,000 empties, 867 of which are long-term, vs 135 homeless families), the scarcity is artificial. The response is that these are privately owned, and therefore sacrosanct, and it's not the Greens fault social housing has been decimated. Furthermore, if you oppose storing people in shipping containers, you objectively support homelessness. There is no alternative!
There's a slightly bigger issue here of the financialisation of the housing stock. According to the Novara on Thatcher, housing equity withdrawal was equal to 105% of GDP growth 1979-1990. The housing bubble continued to form the basis of consumer spending throughout the New Labour years - up until the financial crisis in 2008. Homeowners (private individuals and buy-to-let scumbags) are pretty highly geared (I'd need to look into the figures), so any measures which devalue the housing stock by increasing supply (the perennial lefty cry to build more housing, or punitive taxes on empty homes), decrease demand (non-market provision e.g. state or widespread squatting), or cap rents, would devalue the security of the mortgage loan book. Remember what happened with just the sub-prime mortgage bubble going pop?
So while the grinning 'pragmatic' imbeciles who support containerising the poor have little understanding of the geneology of their pragmatism, there is a worrying logic to it: shipping containers don't really affect the property market because they're not a substitutable good (barely anybody wants to live in them). Furthermore, they're highly mobile, so they can be parked in currently idle urban real estate while development is on hold, then literally picked up and moved when when developers want the land back. Insta-gentrification.
So the problem is not a physical shortage of housing, but of housing as capital (highly financialised, requiring returns on investment, maintaining historically off the charts house price to income ratios, risk of renewed financial collapse if the bubble bursts...). And the containerisation 'solution' is congruent with this - it seeks to utilise idle capital (urban real estate) without destabilising the property bubble/buy-to-let/financial nexus which has sustained economic growth for the past 30-40 years. However - this bubble has also reached its limit, as people can't get on the property ladder, let alone continually remortgage against rising property prices to fuel consumption.
At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution.