Just as the number of evictions in England and Wales soar to the highest levels since records began 14 years ago – up to 11,000 repossessions from July-September (that’s well over 100 per day) – it seems that housing struggles are also on the up again.
A show of solidarity prevented the eviction of a Newham mum and her three kids this morning, when a load of comrades confronted the bailiffs at the house, outnumbering them five to one. The bailiffs left and a meeting was arranged with the housing association, Notting Hill Housing, who agreed not to take any further action until January and to try and have the family re-homed in the borough asap.
Later in the day, a group called Lewisham Homeless Person’s Union confronted paper pushers and security guards at the council offices in Catford, demanding housing for the hundreds of homeless people in the borough. Security blocked access to most, but 3 people were able to meet with bureaucrats, the results if any of which are not yet known.
New Era 4 All is a campaign by residents of the New Era housing estate in Hoxton to keep their rents down. Tenancies there have been made more precarious since their homes were bought by the filthy rich scumbag private equity firm, Westbrook Partners, who are trying to raise rents there in line with market rates of the area, which would mean tenants paying around £2,400 a month. Residents and supporters marched to Westbrook’s offices in central London yesterday and handed them a petition to stop the rent hikes, supported by over 250, 000 signatures.
This new wave of energy is no doubt thanks in part to the tenacity and success of theFocus E15 mums campaign, which began after Newham Council cut funding to a hostel for vulnerable young mothers and their kids. The campaign led to the families getting re-homed in the borough and the creation of a temporary social centre from occupied homes on the Carpenters Estate, which became a hub of skill sharing and plotting for the two weeks of its existence. The Carpenters Estate itself is in the process of slowly being depopulated and demolished, but the publicity generated by the occupation led to some, short term, concessions being won – Newham Council agreed to house 40 people on the estate on a temporary basis.
We’ve also seen public sabotage from the Black Revs, who smothered anti-homeless spikes with concrete, while Class War picked a good target with 19 weeks of dogged protests against poor doors at the yuppie flats of One Commercial Street, forcing the owners into talks. In October, there was a roudy mobilisation against the MIPIM property fair/plunder in Kensington, as well as a counter conference.
The following month there was some good news for squatters too, as four more s144 defendants were acquitted when it proved too difficult for the prosecution to show that the property was designed or adapted for residential use before the occupation. See theAdvisory Service for Squatters for more on this.
Housing Action Lambeth & Southwark (HASL), who do grassroots solidarity work with people most screwed over by landlords, have issued a callout to support T and her family, who are facing homelessness by Southwark Council, at 2pm on Monday 8th at London Bridge. You can also join HASL’s eviction phone network here.
The E15 mums are holding a New Year’s Eve party to celebrate the energy, support and victories of the past year. They are inviting anyone who’d like to get active in this stuff and make more victories in 2015.