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Social housing not social cleansing

Londoner’s claim back their city
Jody Whitehill, Wednesday, October 15th, 2014


Today (October 15) as London’s elite quaffed champagne and made property deals worth billions of pounds the people of London gathered outside to demand their city back.


Protesters from housing campaign groups across London joined forces to demand an end to the regeneration of their housing estates as property tycoons assembled at MIPIM UK the world’s biggest property trade show.


The trade show, at London’s Olympia, brought global property development companies together with local authorities and other partners to close deals, some involving public land.


Speaking to social housing campaigners outside, UNITElive heard how developers are ‘socially cleansing’ our city. Families are being evicted from their homes and councils are selling on the land for massive profits to developers for luxury flats.


“I’ve been living in my flat in Brixton for 10 years,” Betty, a Unite community member told UNITElive. “Now my council want to evict me and my two boys so they can turn our estate in to luxury apartments.


“My whole support network is here. My son’s school is here. He has ADHD and we’ve fought for a year to get him the help he needs in his current school. If I’m forced to move I will need to start from scratch. We will be forced in to temporary accommodation. Who knows how many more times we could be moved on too.”


London Mayor Boris Johnson, who was among the guests, is aiding and abetting property developers in the capital to the detriment of those needing a home – a whopping £80,000 salary is needed to rent an ‘affordable’ two bedroom home in London.


“Sadly Betty isn’t alone,” said Grace Lally, a Unite community organiser in Lambeth. “Like everywhere in London there are thousands of people on the waiting list for council housing and no sign of any council houses.


“Dozens of families have been thrown out, they can’t afford other property in the area. Their kids are in the local schools, they have jobs, and they have connections and are part of a community which is being broken up.”


Earlier this month, Unite urged London Labour councillors to boycott MIPIM as it attracts developers, estate agents, landowners and multi-national investors who are directly profiting from the UK housing crisis.


“It’s quite clear that you cannot just leave housing to the market in London. The rents are just going up and up. There needs to be council housing available to people.


“The rate of pay and the benefits people are getting does not allow people to live in London with the current rents that are being charged,” said Grace.


Unite is calling for a massive council house building programme and the regulation of landlords with the emphasis on rent controls which work in Germany and Sweden.


“These landlords are just cashing in on peoples misery. They don’t care about the quality of life these people have or the lack of quality,” added Grace.


“The only way people can have security is with council houses that they know they can’t be evicted from and a landlord with some kind of accountability and social responsibility.


“It needs to be the council’s number one priority.”


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