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W ew””_`_ ‘_""”"_""""`?"` 1 F-
A utáar q' "Housing qf the Wa1·/êizzg C/asses."
FIFTEEN years have passed since the late Lord Shaftesbury, in the L
course of his evidence before the Royal Commission appointed to
enquire into the housing of our working class population, gave it as
his opinion that, while the improvement in the condition of the
houses of the poor during the thirty years previous to 188 5 had been
enornious, the evils of overcrowding, throughout the country and
especially in London, were still a public scandal and were becoming ‘
more and more serious every year. Since that time we have seen a
period of unparalleled activity in regard to this problem, public and
private enterprise have been busily engaged in attacking the evil
and providing for the necessities of those involved, many large slums
have been cleared away, thousands of model dwellings erected, while
in addition, the general sanitary law has been enforced with renewed
. vigor. And now, despite all our efforts, we have to realize that we
H have but touched the fringe of a great problem, that much of our
effort has but increased the difiiculties of our position, and that
never previously has overcrowding existed in the acute form in
ij which we have reason to believe it is found at the present moment.
gï On every side we hear the same complaint, from rural as well as ‘
urban districts, and slowly but surely we believe the country is
being awakened to the immense gravity of the situation. ‘
Now it is my duty to speak to you, not so much of the general
,, housing problem, but rather of this one aspect of the question-
urban overcrowding-and at the outset let me remark that it is by
à no means easy to arrive at any exact idea of the extent of the evil.
We are accustomed to use the term "0vercrowding" in a general
il ‘ way, but what do we mean by it? Our Public Health Acts, even
K including the Public Health Act, London, 1891, while they provide
y. for the suppression of the evil, do not attempt to define the term, a
ll, noteworthy omission and one which should be speedily rectilied.
As a matter of fact the existing law allows and actually fosters one
form of overcrowding, that is of persons upon a given area. There
·i are, however, two unofficial standards of that form of overcrowding
I, of which I wish more particularly to speak-the overcrowding of
persons in houses or rooms.
l One, which is usually accepted in the compilation of statistics, is
T that adopted in making up the Census returns, wb., an average of "
l· more than two persons per room. Now it must be patent that this
is at the best a rough and ready test, and one which, however useful
in giving us some idea as to the general facts of overcrowding, is
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