Next workshop: Walthamstow, this Sunday (5th July), 4-6pm

Share and join the Facebook event !

Outline of the workshop:

1. How to resist an eviction

2. Practical steps to build up strength as a community

3. Waltham Forest council housing policy

4. Where do we go from there?

Organized by some Walthamstow residents, with Unite Community and the Eviction Resistance working group of the Radical Housing Network (including Focus E15 Mums, Sweets Way Resists, etc).

Message from Waltham Forest Unite Community: “In Waltham Forest we have now defended two households from being thrown immediately on the street by unscrupulous landlords and let the council know that every abuse of housing need must be tackled. Many local people were concerned for the families and visited them to offer support, so we promised a workshop to follow up these events. Please share this invite widely. Eleanor”.

You don’t have to be a resident of Walthamstow to join us: come, learn, share your knowledge and ideas with us, and build up bonds and community strength with the locals :-)

People Power Doesn’t Wait to Vote in Barnet!

The response to the call-out for Juliet on Monday was truly amazing! More than 1000 of you shared and tweeted the blog, and dozens more wrote to the local MP and councillor in less than 2 days. And today we saw the results. Massive thanks to everyone who came out to Barnet and braved the torrential rains, as well as those that sent emails in support.

First, Juliet, who had been discharged by Barnet Homes along with her four kids, was offered a three bedroom house in the borough. She hasn’t been able to see it yet, but without our voices online and protesting outside Barnet Homes she wouldn’t have been made the offer. However, while Juliet’s offer was a great success, the dignity finally afforded to her family must be a human right for all, and not the result of a public outcry.

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So at 4pm we decided to blockade the A1000, London’s main commuter road outside Barnet Homes’ offices, to protest the wider patterns of social cleansing across London. We’ve seen families being pushed beyond the capital and put through immeasurable stress, just so that companies like Annington Homes can bulldoze good houses to make way for luxury flats.

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Following the blockade we marched through Sweets Way and broke Annington’s undemocratic injunction against political protest on the estate. This injunction should never have been granted in the first place. And since we were walking around in the road with banners anyway, we thought: ‘Why not break that injunction while we’re at it?’

So we did. Then we went back to our occupied social centre (which will be two months old on Friday), drank tea and discussed the day’s events. We also got to meet lots of new faces who had responded to the call-out online and, having felt a bit of what people power can achieve, were all the more committed to getting involved in the campaign.

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Today we had a partial victory – on a day when, if we hadn’t come together to fight, a family would be at risk of being thrown out onto the street. In the days ahead, with our growing numbers and profile, we are sure to have more victories as we fight alongside other Sweets Way families that continue to be moved around like furniture.

Tomorrow, some of us will vote, some of us may not, but we’ll all be here together on Friday, fighting for our homes and for a London that is truly a city for all, and not only for those who can afford the kinds of properties Annington is destroying Sweets Way to build.

If you want to get involved, pop by the social centre and say hello this weekend as we celebrate two months of occupation!

 

Eviction successfully resisted in Camberwell!

Saffi, her sisters, mother, and grandmother are housed by Southwark council in temporary accommodation, but have been evicted by the council and continuously moved about – including being sent out to Plumstead. They are currently living on an estate in Camberwell that the council has earmarked for demolition. On Sunday, 3rd May we received this e-mail from her.

Good afternoon, my name is Safie Emila Sellu. I am 14 years old turning 15 on the 16th June. I live with my younger sisters who are 5 and 7. My ill grandmother and single mother. We are located in Southeast London. Southwark.

Yesterday my family and I joined a peaceful protest in Ealing, with the supportive Working Revolutionary people’s party. After the marching, we attended a meeting, where we we thankfully met one of your staffs who instructed me to write this message to ask for you support on Tuesday 5th May 2015.

Considering the fact that like all our other houses we have lived in, we have been evicted from our ramshackle house at 51 Benhill Road London SE5 7QY and we are expected to leave at 11:00 and become homeless again.

We constantly keep moving from one house to another nonstop for over the past years. This is extremely difficult because I am missing school and I have my GCSE exams and my family have been undergoing this difficult process all our life and I feel we need to put a stop to this.

Thus I am pleading with all my might, that you come down and support us on along with some other generous people coming to peacefully protest and make our voices audible concerning the way the council are treating our community.

Thank you

photo credit: People's Republic of SouthwarkPhoto: People’s Republic of Southwark

On the morning of Tuesday, 5th May, nearly forty people turned up at Saffi’s home from Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth, Aylesbury and Guiness, squatters, Lambeth Housing Activists, Green & Black Cross, Reclaim Brixton, Revolutionary Workers Party, People’s Republic of Southwark, and others.

The council are trying to evict the family for alleged rent arrears. Contrary to what Southwark Council claim, rent arrears does not automatically make you ‘intentionally homeless’. The family have lawyers who are appealing the decision, but in the meantime collective action kept the family in their home.

After seeing a balcony of people and banners determined to block their way, the bailiffs and builders didn’t approach but hid around the corner talking with the police. Once they had left, Saffi’s mum delivered a powerful victory speech about how many families are facing eviction, and promised to help any others in the same situation fight for their homes. Her speech can be watched here:

She then invited us all in for a victory feast of jollof rice with chicken and plantain.

Eviction resistance victory feast!Eviction resistance victory feast!

SI SE PUEDE: a documentary to watch!

The documentary “SI SE PUEDE” by the PAH (Spanish Housing movement) is now available online for free and in multiple languages. It shows how people got organized to provide mutual support and resist hundreds of evictions. It is so interesting and inspirational; their approach to campaigning and resisting evictions is amazing! In the last few months it has influenced many housing campaigns in London, and many groups in the Radical Housing Network.

Watch it if you can! Even better, watch it with your friends/fellow campaigners:

English:

Español: https://youtu.be/elnjoFVv_Os

Deutsch: https://vimeo.com/126099795

Italiano: https://vimeo.com/126120237

Supporter of Trace (Lambeth) goes door knocking to create Eviction resistance phone tree

After yesterday’s eviction resistance action in support of 35 years resident Trace in Lambeth, supporters went door knocking in the neighbourhood, to create a phone tree for resisting future eviction attempts.

Housing activists stop Lambeth bailiffs evicting a disabled woman - in photos - Lillieshall Road, London SW4 0LP, April 2015

This followup action was initiated by a single supporter:

“I went down there again today on what turned out to be a false alarm this time. A police van was seen driving past and Trace asked for people to come in case the bailiffs came after the reconnaissance.   I decided to use the time to do a little more than sit around to see if the bailiffs were going to turn up. I said I was going to canvas her neighbours to build a list of people who could be part of a rapid response if the bailiffs did turn up. A couple of other people said they would canvas as well.


I did one street over from where Trace lives. Most doors I knocked nobody answered, probably at work or too elderly to open the door to a stranger without an appointment. Those who did answer I explained I had come over from Herne Hill on what was a false alarm and what we were trying to do was build a rapid response team of local people who if they were around could lend support at short notice. Of the seven people I did speak to, six of them agreed to give their phone numbers and said they would walk round to Trace’s if they received a text saying the bailiffs were there.


The other people who went canvassing got an equally good response. This is an example of what building a movement means in practice, not relying on a small number of activists who will burn themselves out trying to respond to everything.”

Single tenant stops eviction with “calm assertiveness that something can’t possible be right”

A single tenant in London stopped his eviction a few days ago, non-violently and with “calm assertiveness”.

In his own words:

“I had the bailiff turn up yesterday to enforce the eviction, I explained that I thought the order was not valid as I had been to court and found out that all the previous paperwork had gone to the wrong address and I had been told by the court to submit this in an email.

The bailiff explained that being told by a clerk on the inquiries line is not the same as getting a ruling from a judge and therefore the eviction order was still valid. I explained that it cannot possibly be right to grant an order for repossession without the right to a hearing in court to contest it. He said that is what you put a defense claim form in for. I said the clerk had not told me this. He said clerks are not qualified to give legal advice, your solicitor should have told you what to do.

I insisted that without the basis for the judgement how could I contest it and that had been posted to the wrong address. He said it was his discretion and since I had made efforts to contact the court he wasn’t going to enforce the eviction now – but I should speak to my lawyer again.

Then he left and when I spoke to the estate manager/caretaker later he said that previously people had lost their tempers with the bailiff but a calm assertiveness that something can’t possibly be right works much better. I had a hammer behind the door though if they had turned up in force to change the locks.

I feel I’m still angry they can treat people like this, to them it is just another property to me it is my home. But it buys me more time, I’m not going to make it easy for these b***ards. I’m still determined to fight them in whatever way I can.”

 

And a few more words about his future resistance:

We have a group started and a day of action planned for with banners, press and the invite will go out for everyone to join us. The whole estate (apart from a couple of snitches) is aware of what we are trying to start.

I only did yesterday alone because I knew it would be easy, and getting people to take time off work when they didn’t need to seemed a waste.”

Long-term solutions are reached through organizing with neighbors and a series of little victories. Well done!

Turning a legal “defeat” into a real victory: The Sweets Way social centre has moved!

Cross-posted from https://sweetswayresists.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/time-for-a-bigger-place/

Sweets Way Resists responds to a predictably unfair legal decision and gets on with fighting social cleansing.

Today one of the most long-standing principles of British law was reinforced: that private property rights hold greater importance than human rights. A Barnet County Court judge decided to rule against our protest and social centre occupation on the Sweets Way estate, in favour of social cleansing property firm, Annington, even though agreeing with most of our arguments in the courtroom.

Not only did they grant Annington possession over the 160 or so homes of the Sweets Way estate, they even gave them an injunction against future protests taking place anywhere on the site! This is unprecedented and a worryingly draconian case for all involved in housing justice work. However, as long as private property is deemed more legally important than a range of human rights, this kind of thing will happen.

But what happened after the injunction is truly remarkable!

Upon our return from court, we found that the social centre at 60 Sweets Way had been emptied of all the things that made it beautiful. Meanwhile a new property – a five bedroom at 76 Oakleigh Road North, owned by Annington as well, but just beyond the injunction and possession zones – had been occupied and filled with all the makings of a new social centre!

There’s a Mexican proverb that feels appropriate for us today:

‘They tried to bury us, but they forgot that we were seeds.’

The courts may be stacked against us in the fight for decent homes, but the courts have never been where our power lies. Every time they try to shovel another heap of dirt on top of us and hope we’ll go away, we shoot up through the soil with another burst of strength!

So we lost in the courts, but we won in the homes of Sweets Way! And we’ll be here to keep the question of social cleansing on the agenda, and support one another as we fight to protect these buildings from demolition and secure decent homes for all those who have already been forced out of Sweets Way.

As always, come pay us a visit (We’re on Oakleigh Road North now, backing onto Sweets Way), send us food and household stuff if you are able to, keep calling Annington’s offices, and sign the petition to stop the demolition of Sweets Way!

Together, we can defeat giants!

Sweets Way calls for support against evictions

(cross-posted from People’s Assembly)

Barnet Housing Action Group are a group campaigning around housing issues in The Borough of Barnet, North London. We have been working with the Our West Hendon campaign for the past year and have recently joined the Focus E15 Mums in occupying a house on the Sweets Way Estate in the North of the borough in protest against the evictions which have taken place there by Annington Homes Ltd, the owners of the houses and land.

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West Hendon is a council estate alongside a reservoir and conservation area known as ‘the Welsh Harp’. The estate comprises of a mix of 650 properties some secure tenancies, some private, some temporary non-secure tenants and also leaseholders. All of these homes are going to be bulldozed and replaced with 2000 luxury apartments – 214 of which – the non luxury of course – will be council flats.

The new luxury flats are being built alongside the Welsh Harp with beautiful views and open spaces whilst the secure council tenants are being moved into a block being built alongside the Edgware Rd in the middle of a gyratory one way system which used to be a car park. Their view will overlook the back of the mechanics garages and kebab shops on the Edgware Rd. Barnet council will not own the building, they will be leasing it from Metropolitan Housing Association. Barnet gave the land on which the West Hendon Estate currently stands to Barratt’s developers – FOR NOTHING!

The new development will be called Hendon Waterside but the West Hendon council tenants that get to remain on their estate won’t be anywhere near a drop of that water! The majority of people currently living on the estate will be ‘decanted’ to other areas; no one knows where until the very last minute of the ‘decanting’ process. The secure tenants still don’t know how much their rents will be and the leaseholders are fighting the Compulsory Purchase Orders put on their homes by Barnet Council which they are being forced to sell at thousands of pounds less than the market value. This scandal has prompted an 8 day public inquiry, the result of which is yet to be released. However even if the inquiry decides in their favour, Eric Pickles will have the last word on the final decision.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the borough – in the North of Barnet – we have a very recent campaign where a whole estate – 153 households, have been evicted because Barnet Council have given planning permission to the owners, Annington Homes, to bulldoze the whole estate and replace with 300 luxury apartments with zero social housing included in the new build.

The mix of residents housed there by the council in temporary, emergency and private accommodation have been dispersed, many out of the borough and many into sub-standard private accommodation, the majority against their will. We have seen a letter instructing a tenant to move to Birmingham the next day and know of one case of a tenant bullied into moving to emergency accommodation for just 10 days before being moved again to another temporary property with such short notice her son had to return from school to find their home boarded up and a neighbour waiting with a note to let him know the address of his new ’10 day’ home.!

There are only 10 families left on the estate now, all waiting for eviction notices and the atmosphere is like an apocalyptic scene from a science fiction film. The eviction process does not seem to have been explained comprehensively and neither was the process for accepting offers of homes to move to and for some this has resulted in them being discharged from the responsibility of Barnet council to re-home them. It is a crime to knock down these houses – they are all in pristine condition and were only built 45 years ago.

Private renting in Barnet is almost impossible and letting agents require a minimum of £36,000 a year salary, some £50,000 in order to be accepted to be on their books. In September 2013 there were only 6% of landlords that would accept tenants on housing benefit, now it is virtually none. There were 18,000 on the waiting list in 2013 and the council dealt with that by abolishing the list! To address this crisis they have recently built ’3′ council homes, the first for 22 years.

At present they have an unprecedented consultation in operation whereby they are proposing to raise council rents to 80% of market value or to the London Housing Allowance which will mean that many of those in need will not fit the criteria needed in order to qualify for a council house as the threshhold salary needed to be earned will be above the minimum salary allowed to qualify for need of a council home.

We believe that the intention of this policy is that Barnet Council – on paper – will be able to show that no one is applying for council housing, which therefore in theory cancels out the need for homes to be built. This will then achieve their real agenda, to get rid of future council housing in Barnet completely.

In different ways both West Hendon and Sweets Way residents are fighting backagainst this social cleansing. As well as the public inquiry West Hendon have a petition demanding to see the viability report, that all residents be re-homed on the estate if that is what they wish, and they now have over 130,000 signatures, the largest petition ever recorded in the history of Barnet Councils existence.

Sweets Way ex-residents have occupied an empty house and also have a petition demanding that the houses are not bulldozed and to be re-housed in the local area. Annington Homes have responded with a County Court Possession Oder but also an attempt to put an injunction on all the land. The case was adjourned to give us more time to prepare our case.

We need your support on Monday morning at the courts. Annington have a well-paid team of lawyers who will use every trick in the book to not only evict the Sweets Way social centre, but also to criminalise protest across the whole estate (where families are still living). This is potentially setting a very dangerous legal precedent for future housing protests and freedom of expression more widely.

Come out and make it clear that we won’t stand by as our right to protest is trampled with our right to decent homes. We will not give up quietly so regeneration can carry on unimpeded. We will continue to shine a light on the social cleansing at the heart of Barnet’s housing policies and Annington’s ‘redevelopment’ plans!

Monday 30th March, 9.30am, Barnet County Court, St Marys court, Regents Park Road, N3 1BQ

Sign the petition

http://www.huckmagazine.com/perspectives/reportage-2/russell-brand-sweets-way/

https://www.change.org/p/boris-johnson-put-our-homes-before-profit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFNCRPl_L_Y

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OXc814Q9ps

 

Help Yorkley Court Community Farm!

Message from Yorkley Court Community Farm:

Support needed at Yorkley Court Community Farm. Community before profit!

We have been given a date when county court bailiffs will come to evict us, which is

    Thursday 26th March at 10am

Whether or not they actually try to evict us on this day, we expect that they will at least show up. It would be good to have a lot of people here to show a large force of resistance.

Yorkley Court is a sustainable farm in the Forest of Dean where for the last three years we have been living and working to turn a neglected piece of land into a community farm, with activities open to local people. At the same time were also trying to stop a land grab that was in progress. But this project is now under threat. A few months ago, a millionaire property developer “bought” the land under questionable circumstances, was granted a possession order through the courts, and now wants to evict us from the land.

We have already beaten an eviction attempt by this property developer once, with your help we can see him off again!

We’re inviting any interested people to come occupy the land with us. Come live in the woods, build awesome treehouses, participate in skill-shares, learn about sustainable living, resist eviction, and join us in fighting for access to land.

Updates are regularly going up on our website (https://yorkleycourt.wordpress.com/) which also gives details of how to find us, and on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/YorkleyCourtCF)

In the case of eviction, there are a variety of roles that people can take on, both on and off site, including support roles such as cooks, legal observers, medics and arrestee support.

As well as people on the ground for practical solidarity, monetary donations and resources (such us building materials, food and so on) are much appreciated.

We are here, we are determined and we will not leave quietly.

Brick Lanes Debates, thank you!

We went to the Brick Lanes Debates DAY FOR HOUSING last Sunday, it was very inspiring.

We made a workshop about how to resist an eviction for tenants, which went very well and started some interesting conversations about safety in an action of Eviction Resistance, and children.

We also made a few contacts and got invited to two places to do workshops there.

Thank you Brick Lanes Debates!

Notes from the workshops will be turned into resources on the website. Hopefully within the next few weeks!