Knives, lives and homes

Even allowing for statistical and social variables, the fact that London’s murder rate can be compared with New York City’s indicates the gravity of the situation here.  It’s depressingly predictable that most politicians’ response to our young people killing each other is to call for more policing.  I accept it’s part of the picture.  But obsessively seeing the problem through the prism of “law and order”, often as a proxy for talking about more uncomfortable subjects, offers no real hope of solving it.

Despite my own obsessions, I’m not arguing that the housing crisis is directly or solely causing rising violence among young people.  A complex range of factors is involved.  But my thoughts keep going back to a passage in my book, featuring an interview with Demetrius Bonner, a housing and community activist from the South Side of Chicago.  Demetrius said to me:

“They knew when they tore the buildings down that they’d displace people.  Children have had to move schools, some to suburban areas in the far South Side, so it’s a double displacement.  The black community’s social infrastructure has been destroyed.  The demolitions have also disrupted the gang structure.  Today the violence is random.” 

The last sentence is particularly chilling for what’s happening in London today, but actually, everything else Demetrius says has an echo.  The passage continues: 

To illustrate his last point, [Demetrius] produces a photo on his phone showing the dead body of a 14-year old boy shot in the street behind Demetrius’ home a few days before we met.  It’s no more valid to attribute such shocking incidents to contemporary urban policy than it was to post-war public housing, but there is a profound sense that some South Side residents have been abandoned to their fates while the authorities pursue an ideologically-driven clearance policy. 

Even when I wrote this in 2015, the level of violence and abandonment in Chicago felt like something that exemplified the differences between the UK and US.  The history of American social policy – and of course, the wide presence of guns – seemed to suggest that, although the pressures on working class urban communities over here were approaching those of places like the South Side, they weren’t as bad.  Now I’m not so sure.

Broadly, I’d still say the UK doesn’t have the brutality of American society, but recent events in London suggest we’re heading that way and reaping the whirlwind for decades of cuts and austerity.  Working class communities in general and women and young people in particular have been the main targets of revanchist policies against the Welfare State.  As in the US, people with black and brown skin are disproportionately likely to suffer as cities become ever-more socially and ethnically divided.  Within this, the fundamental question of housing looms large.

Speaking on Radio 5 on 26th March, Michelle McPhllips reflected on the many reasons why young people, including her own son, are dying on London’s streets.

“When our kids leave school now, there’s no incentive…You used to be able to get a job and start renting a flat.  Flats are too expensive now.  Most families have three generations living in the same home, so that’s another pressure.  What they’re seeing is areas where they’ve knocked down council housing and put up these glorified flats costing £465,000.  The people coming out of that flat have got a lovely car, £100 trainers.  The kids literally on the other side of the street haven’t got that.”

Michelle lives in Islington.  Her words have a particular resonance for me because they precisely describe what’s happening around the Islington council estate where I work.

Young people have been demonised in the UK for many years, especially if they live in stigmatised social housing, something that reached a peak after the 2011 London riots.  Since then, the housing crisis has deepened and scores of council estates are now threatened with demolition, leading to the kind of displacement and disruption described by Demetrius Bonner in Chicago.

Neoliberal and profit-driven urban policies have produced cities in which many young people literally feel they have no place.  They find it almost impossible to find a home they can afford in the communities where they were born, thwarting their ability to develop independent lives.  Their social networks, sense of belonging and feeling of respect from the adult world have been stretched to breaking point.  Nothing could be more perfectly calculated to create a situation in which young people don’t care, either about the lives of others, or their own.

The generation of working class youngsters at the centre of the current wave of street violence has only known Austerity Britain.  The childcare services, youth clubs, leisure facilities, education, job and housing opportunities available to their parents have been decimated.

In the early 1990s, during the height of the disastrous War on Drugs in the US, a police officer working in deeply deprived communities in Jersey City said to me “It’s all very well saying ‘Just Say No’ to kids.  But we have to give them something to say ‘yes’ to.”  That should start with a decent, secure, truly affordable and safe home.

 

 

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Learning from DC

We recently had the pleasure of Dominic Mouldon staying with us.  Dominic has been a housing activist in Washington DC for 30 over years, where he currently works for the One DC campaign.  It was Dominic’s first visit to the UK and I asked him a few questions about his trip.

GR      On Wednesday 14th March, you joined the silent walk to remember the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster.  How was that for you?

DM      I felt a deep sense of solidarity.  There was a special feeling of respect for the lives lost, especially when they handed me a little badge with a victim’s name on it to wear during the walk.  That was really moving.  It reminded me of how shocking it was for us, in the US, to hear about the fire.  I also experienced the dignity and power of silence.  Finally though, it was very telling to walk through areas separated by only a couple of miles and see such huge differences between them.  I saw the deep class and economic divide reflected in the different homes and buildings along the way.

GR      Thinking about your visit overall, what comparisons and differences will you take back to the US in terms of the housing situation and how people are responding to it?

DM      I think I’d need a longer visit to properly answer that question.  But the first thing I noticed that’s really different is the sheer scale and volume of the new private property developments in London, even compared to most US cities, including DC where there’s been a frenzy of new building.  But the number of towers and their height that are going up here was scary to me.  It felt exactly like the social and ethnic cleansing we see back home, but on an even bigger scale.

The second difference is how we organise.  We both want to win.  We want to stop displacement and change the social, political and economic tide that’s causing it.  So how do we do that?  We need more people to get involved and get their hands dirty.  I think of it like growing grapes that you want to turn into good wine.  If you’ve got a vineyard of 10,000 acres and you’ve only got one person per acre working it, that’s a bit overwhelming – a bit like the housing crisis can seem.  But if you have 10, 20 or 100 people to an acre, you feel like you can win.  We don’t have enough people in the vineyard in the US either, but we do have a longer tradition of training and paying campaign staff.  Over here, most campaigners are combining activism with a job, family and other responsibilities.  Maybe that’s something for you to think about.

I also think, over here, you might want to consider more the relationship between ethnicity and displacement or other aspects of the housing crisis.  Fundamentally, I still believe housing inequality is about social class, but we need to recognise the significance of ethnicity within that: how black and brown-skinned people are more likely to be the victims of the housing crisis.

In terms of similarities, the violence and viciousness of what I’ve heard about here is very familiar.  I’ve been told lots of stories of people being kicked out of their homes by organisations who won’t give up until they’ve smashed entire communities.  That’s exactly the same as the US.  I also noticed how similar the human impact is.  I was told again and again “I feel stressed out”, “I feel like I’m not valued as a person”, “I’m getting headaches”, “I’m losing my community”.  Somebody I met at the Aylesbury estate yesterday used exactly the same words as someone I work with in DC – “They wouldn’t treat dogs this way”.

GR      There’s a lot to say about President Trump, but so far, how do you think his administration has impacted on the housing crisis specifically?

If you’d asked me just after he was elected, I’d have said “it doesn’t make any difference”.  He’s just like all the others.  But now I’m getting really concerned.  He’s implemented huge cuts to housing programmes for people on low incomes.  Billions of dollars are being removed from budgets intended to meet the needs of the people we work with.  He’s also trying to reinstate an ideology from the past, linking public housing and welfare benefits to the politics of respectability, as defined by him.  At One DC, we believe everyone has a right to housing.  What our government’s saying is that only certain people have that right.  So things are getting worse.  Trump has launched an economic and ideological assault on the poor.  It’s not just housing.  It’s healthcare, education and other social programmes that working class communities rely on – and pay for.

GR      There’s been a revived interest over here in “The Wire”, which some see as an authentic insight into urban America.  You were brought up in public housing in Baltimore, where the TV programme’s set.  What do you think?

DM      I can be very brief on this.  I don’t like it.  It worries me that people, especially politicians, might use “The Wire” to inform their decisions.  Some of the storylines may have some truth, but it’s only a fragment of the experience of living in those places.  It’s only one writer’s viewpoint.  I think in some ways the programme perpetuates and reinforces stereotypes and dehumanising myths about African-American people and public housing.

 

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The Housing State We’re In

It’s hard to sustain anger at the housing state we’re in.  Every time you think you’ve heard the worst example of corporate greed and policy failure, you hear something else.

The following ad is for a home currently being built opposite the council estate where I work.  Just in case you think you’re seeing things, yes, the ‘guide price’ is £1.2 million and yes, the seller is a housing association.

This particular outrage doesn’t stop there.  This is one of 16 homes within the development for sale at over £1 million.  The most expensive is on offer for £1,670,000.  The land Southern Housing Group (SHG) is building on used to be publicly owned (occupied by a school).  The site sat vacant for at least three years, while the local housing waiting list got longer.  The development – “The Featherstone” – is being marketed by arch gentrification agents Savills, as “the definition of urbanity”.  According to the planning permission, of the total of 65 homes, 19 (30%) should be for social rent, although we can no longer take such figures or definitions for granted.  According to its 2016/17 annual report, last year the number of homes SHG let for social rent fell, while the number for misnamed Affordable Rent (up to 80% of market level) increased.  During the year, SHG built 393 new homes, made up as follows:

Shared Ownership 169 (43% of total)

Affordable Rent 87 (22% of total)

Open Market Sale 49 (12% of total)

Private Rent 48  (12% of total)

Social Rent 40  (10% of total)

During the year, they made a “surplus” (i.e. profit) of £62 million.  Over the last three years, SHG has received £2.3 million in government grants.

In other words, despite significant public funding and amidst an acute housing crisis, only 1 in 10 of the homes built by this so-called social landlord last year, would have any chance of helping those in most housing need.

Like, for example, the family I know living immediately opposite The Featherstone who will be evicted by their private landlord any day now.  They’re desperately looking for another home in the area where the three young children have spent their whole lives.  They’ve tried everything, including leafleting the local neighbourhood (see below).  Needless to say, they’ve got no chance of living at The Featherstone, which stands as a mocking reminder of the prospect of homelessness and their uncertain future.

This is the housing state we’re in.  This story is only one of thousands like it, but it could have been different.  When the school was demolished in 2012, the land could have been kept in public ownership.  The local authority could then have built council homes on it.  They could have used section 106/”planning gain” money from the numerous private property developments in the area to help pay for them.  Even after the site had been privatised, the council could have insisted on more genuinely affordable homes for social rent.  But no local politician (nor the local MP) has raised a peep about this scandalous situation.  Even now, with the spectre of Grenfell in mind, they could demand to know how this scheme they authorised has become so detached from the lives and needs of local people – where there are almost as many homes for sale for over £1 million as there are for social rent!

 

 

 

 

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The Florida Project

I’m loath to recommend things, but The Florida Project is well worth seeing.  It depicts an America beyond complacent, artificial consumerism where real human values struggle, but also flourish.  In some ways it’s I, Daniel Blake for the US – a child’s-eye view of an increasingly brutal and brutalising society.  (It also gives a rare cinematic representation of what I do for a living.  I’m a bit disappointed Willem Dafoe got the part ahead of me, but he nailed it.)

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The Cotton Famine: Lancashire textile workers, Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War by Mark Krantz

This is a great way to enter 2018.  When Red Roof published my book last year, I hoped it wouldn’t be a one-off.  So I was delighted when Mark Krantz got in touch.  Mark’s pamphlet draws attention to an important, but often over-looked chapter in working class history.  It records a powerful example of international solidarity which, as Mark says, has additional resonance in the Age of Trump.

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release

1st January 2018

The Cotton Famine: Lancashire textile workers, Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War  by Mark Krantz

(ISBN 978-0-9930198-2-1, 32pp, £4/$6)

Happy New Year! Red Roof is delighted to welcome-in 2018 with the publication of Mark Krantz’s The Cotton Famine.  Mark’s thoroughly researched, but accessible, pamphlet describes a dynamic political process in which organised labour debated the most contentious issue of the time – and arrived on the right side of history.

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln unveiled the Emancipation Proclamation, effectively ending slavery in the USA.  But Lincoln’s historic announcement was the result of hugely complex socio-economic and political issues that swirled around the American Civil War.

As the bloody war entered its third year, the outcome was far from certain.  The Union North had suffered repeated military setbacks and governments in other countries were unsure which side to back.  Moral discomfort with slavery was tempered by economic interests in its preservation.  Nowhere was this establishment uncertainty more pressing than the UK.

The Lancashire cotton industry was a significant part of the British economy.  It relied on the import of cotton produced by slave labour in the US Confederate South.  The Civil War threatened that supply through a combination of blockades, the chaos of conflict and the determination to be free of thousands of African-Americans who abandoned the plantations for the slavery-free North, often to join the Union army and fight for their freedom.

When the flow of cotton dried up, Lancashire cotton-mill workers faced redundancy and starvation.  They had every reason to back the UK government’s position of moral equivocation on slavery which was leading it towards support for the Southern Confederacy.

But unlike the Tory government of Lord Palmerstone, the mill workers put moral principle above economic self-interest.  How they came to that position is the fascinating subject of The Cotton Famine.

Using primary sources, recording powerful and moving arguments, Mark describes one of the earliest examples of international, industrial solidarity.  155 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, The Cotton Famine also shows the continuing relevance of the global fight against racism and injustice in the age of President Donald Trump and ‘Black Lives Matter’.

Mark says:

“I wrote this book because of Donald Trump.  When he became President there were widespread protests against him and his declarations of racism and hatred.  On one of the demonstrations against Trump I recalled that there had been a time when Manchester rallied not against an American President – but in support of an American President.  On New Year’s Eve 1862 at a meeting at the Free Trades Hall in Manchester, six thousands workers declared their support for president Abraham Lincoln and the proclamation he had signed that freed the slaves during the American Civil War.  This is a history that needs to be retold.  How it came about that textile workers refused to spin cotton picked by slave hands has not been told in detail.  I wrote The Cotton Famine to bring this little known but inspirational history to a new audience today.

Ends(

Notes:

1.      Mark Krantz teaches for the Workers Education Association at the People’s History Museum in Manchester.  He is an activist and a long standing campaigner against racism and fascism.  His previous books chart the textile workers’ struggles at Peterloo in 1819 and of the Chartists in the 1842 General Strike.

2.      To order a copy (and for bulk orders) call us on the number above or contact krantz.mark@gmail.com

3.      Red Roof is an independent publishing house dedicated to telling the stories of working class people and their struggles for social justice.

4.      Also available from Red Roof There’s No Place: The American housing crisis and what it means for the UK by Glyn Robbins.

Mark Krantz

 

 

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Charlotte Delgado, PRESENTE!

It was with a heavy heart and teary eye that I read this email today from Michael Kane, director of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT), sister organisation of Defend Council Housing (DCH) in the US:

Hello all, yesterday I received the sad news that long-time NAHT Board leader and former President Charlotte Delgado passed away peacefully, on Tuesday afternoon, in a hospice in Stockton, California.

Kathryn Buller-Melton, Charlotte’s stalwart friend and neighbor, had a long talk with Charlotte on Sunday. Kathryn asked Charlotte how she would like to be remembered. Charlotte replied, that she was a little soldier for all the little soldiers, fighting so that everyone can have a safe and decent place to live.

Charlotte needn’t worry—we will always remember her tenacious, boundless energy; her beautiful and well-placed anger; and her inspiring leadership in the struggle for tenants rights and housing justice.

Charlotte Delgado, Presente!

As my own small tribute, below is the extract about Charlotte from my book.

American Tragedy

Charlotte Delgado has lived in Sacramento for 30 years, but in 2015 found that she didn’t have a home there.  Charlotte moved to her rented apartment in the city centre in 1985.  Soon after, she became a tenant activist when she led a successful battle to keep rents affordable for herself and her fellow low-income neighbours.  This was a life-changing moment for Charlotte because it led her to the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT), a national, tenant-led organisation that campaigns to preserve and protect affordable housing, particularly in the private rented sector.  Charlotte has been a NAHT Board member ever since and had been the organisation’s national chairperson for several years until her own housing situation destabilised her life.

When the latest speculative property boom hit Sacramento, Charlotte’s building was “flipped” three times in three years, each time increasing a sense of threat and vulnerability.  Charlotte was a marked woman because the owners knew her reputation and that she would organise to resist any attempt to hike rents or evict low income tenants.  They made Charlotte various offers – including outright bribes – in the hope she’d leave quietly.  She refused.  In early May 2015 Charlotte received an eviction order based on spurious grounds relating to the behaviour of her younger son who is chronically ill and mentally unstable.  One day Charlotte returned home from visiting a sick neighbour she cared for to find the building manager and the sheriff changing the locks.  She had to demand the return of her walking frame and purse before she was told to leave the building.  At the age of 79, Charlotte was homeless and alone.  She says she spent the rest of the day in a daze, walking around the city until she couldn’t walk any more.  This wouldn’t attract attention in Sacramento because there are thousands of people in a similar plight.  The local homeless encampment has elected its own Mayor and there’s a dedicated school for homeless children.  Charlotte had spent years volunteering at a shelter, but never imagined she’d need its help.  She recalled that another thing she’d never considered is where homeless women go to the toilet when, like her, they (literally) have no place to go.

Fortunately, at least some of Charlotte’s contribution to society was repaid and she was offered emergency shelter so she didn’t have to sleep on the street.  She was then provided with temporary accommodation by a Catholic charity, while she tried to find a permanent home.  Although she was now in a comfortable, caring environment, the hostel was in the suburbs, a one hour train and bus ride from the neighbourhood she knows.  It was as though Charlotte had been banished from the city for daring to challenge the property barons.  She tried to get help from the public housing authority, but despite her age and physical frailty, they weren’t interested.  Instead Charlotte had to hope that her housing voucher would be honoured by a new private landlord, but this was in some doubt because technically, Charlotte had been evicted for breaching her tenancy conditions.  In early August, after three months of dislocated limbo, Charlotte found an apartment in a complex for older people, but her uncertainty was not over yet.  A month later, the housing authority, which administers the voucher system, had not released the funding to pay the landlord.  So Charlotte had a bed and a roof over her head, but her furniture was still in storage because she wanted to be certain that she wasn’t going to be made homeless again.

In the context of a flimsy, porous social welfare system, Charlotte has been relatively fortunate to be rehoused.  Others, like Charlotte’s older son, are not so lucky.  After serving in the US Army, he worked as a gardener for the city for 25 years and had been living with his mum and acting as her carer before her eviction.  He ended up on the streets, along with his younger brother who Charlotte thinks may have stomach cancer, because he keeps vomiting blood.  Referring to another aspect of America’s relentless war on the poor, Charlotte relates an occasion when she went to the chemist with her younger son and asked how many of the 11 drugs he needed she could afford with the $55 she had in her purse. The answer was “none”.  The cheapest prescription was $110.

 American Hero

It’s one thing to witness and try to describe the experience of those affected by America’s housing crisis, another when one of its victims is a personal friend.  I’ve known Charlotte Delgado for about ten years and she’s one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met.  She’s devoted much of her life to helping others, particularly campaigning with NAHT for tenants’ rights and decent homes for all.  But Charlotte’s story is about much more than housing.  She defied potential racist prejudice by marrying a Mexican, became a fluent Spanish speaker, spent many years working in the hotel industry, fostered and adopted abandoned children, is an active church member, a cancer survivor, but still chain-smokes the cigarettes she calls “coffin nails”.  Charlotte’s politics aren’t formulated through theory or party affiliation, but an innate sense of social justice and class solidarity that is distinctively American.  This is also reflected in her patriotism which, most remarkably, is undimmed by the loss of three (yes, three) sons in the Vietnam War.  But as she approaches her 80s, Charlotte isn’t bitter or self-pitying, just angry with a system that destroys lives for profit.  Despite her age and some health problems, Charlotte was still fighting for the homes of others when she lost her own.  She’s already told NAHT that once she’s settled in her new home she’ll organise a tenants association![1]

The hardest thing for Charlotte in telling me her story (and for me listening to it) is that she feels ashamed.  Like other activists I’ve known, Charlotte is better at fighting for others than herself.  Given all she’s done to help other people and the affection she’s held in, it’s possible Charlotte could have avoided the situation she found herself in when she lost her home, but not certain.  A key feature of American society in general and its housing crisis in particular, is its brutality. The fact that Charlotte Delgado is elderly, disabled, poor and has made huge contributions to and sacrifices for her country, including paying taxes for 65 years, matters not a jot.  When the forces of corporate finance, property developers and their political lackies want to make money, it seems nothing else matters.  If California was a country, it would be the seventh wealthiest on earth. Who should be ashamed?

Speaking at NAHT conference in 2014, Charlotte said:

The government is trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and poorest – women, veterans and the disabled.  They’re cutting programmes for affordable housing, but there are no cuts in the military budget. I’m a mother of seven veterans, including three who are over on the wall.[1]  Our veterans need to be looked after by bringing them home.  We need to make sure that big corporations like Apple and Bank of America pay their fair share of taxes.  I pay mine.  We’re here because the government needs to see the faces of the people their cuts affect.  We need a government that recognises decent housing as a basic human right. 

[1] A reference to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC.

[1] Since 2015, Charlotte’s housing situation has stabilised.  She’s been able to settle in a new apartment in central Sacramento, sharing with her older son.

Charlotte leads NAHT members to speak truth to power on Capitol Hill (DC, June 2016)

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Vindication, but not victory (yet)

This is Alan Walter.

Alan died suddenly in 2009 aged 51.  He dedicated his life to the struggle for council housing, as part of his belief that everyone has a right to a decent, secure, truly affordable and safe home.  As Austin Mitchell says, Alan was a ‘master of the arts’ of campaigning.  One of his specialities was working behind enemy lines.  He slipped into the corridors of power where he met and cajoled politicians of all persuasions in an attempt to forge the broadest possible alliance for housing policy in the interests of working class people and communities.

I thought of Alan yesterday while I digested Jeremy Corbyn’s conference speech.  Defend Council Housing (DCH) and other housing campaigns have had good moments in the past.  We’ve had conference resolutions passed, high-profile media coverage and won battles to save council housing from privatisation, all from a grass-roots, shoe-string organisation.  But overall, the neoliberal, private developer and profit-driven bandwagon has continued to roll.  Yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn signaled that might be about to change.  It’s a huge vindication for Alan and the many other people who’ve maintained the fight for a real alternative to the property casino.  But it’s not yet a victory.

Mr Corbyn has been a staunch supporter of DCH and housing rights campaigns for many years, so in a way his speech was no surprise.  But since becoming Labour leader he’s been understandably pre-occupied with internal party politics.  Although we never doubted his sincerity, this has become a growing concern and frustration for those of us on the outside.  While the government’s housing policy has been falling apart, some Labour councils have been trying to drive through privatisation agendas that would make some Tories blush.

Yesterday’s speech contained some vital arguments if we are to escape the housing crisis and avoid repeating it.  Quite rightly, Mr Corbyn used Grenfell Tower as the symbol of what has to be a turning point.  He called Grenfell:

“…an indictment not just of decades of failed housing policies and privatisation and the yawning inequality in one of the wealthiest boroughs and cities in the world, it is also a damning indictment of a whole outlook which values council tax refunds for the wealthy above decent provision for all and which has contempt for working class communities…Grenfell is not just the result of bad political decisions It stands for a failed and broken system which Labour must and will replace…a decent home is a right for everyone.”

Corbyn went on to make  the following commitments:

  • Housing must not be a tool for speculative investment.
  • Labour will listen to tenants and control rents.
  • Labour will seek powers to compulsorily purchase and tax unused land held by developers.
  • Labour will “think again” about regeneration so that it’s “for the benefit of the local people, not private developers, not property speculators”.
  • Residents in regeneration areas will have a binding ballot before redevelopment goes ahead and a real right of return.

Conference speeches aren’t the place for detailed policy.  They inevitably leave some things unsaid.  So while Corbyn’s speech is very welcome, as Alan Walter (who was a miserable git at times) would have been the first to say, it’s also a potential honey-trap.

The biggest dangers are complacency, inertia and policy obfuscation.  Residents of the 50+ estates currently threatened with the loss of their homes through ball and chain redevelopment can’t afford to wait for a Labour government.  The next election could come too late for the people of Haringey where the council and a private developer are attempting a massive land-grab and asset-stripping of public property.  If the Ministry of Justice goes ahead with the sale of public land at Holloway Prison it will never be used to build the homes we need.  If Notting Hill Housing Group completes its merger with Genesis it will be another sign that housing associations have been lost to the world of corporate property developers.  The review of social housing being undertaken by Labour invites the likes of John Healey and Sadiq Khan to continue their craven capitulation to the undermining of genuine council housing through “affordable” and “social” housing schemes that are nothing of the kind.

Armed with Corbyn’s speech, local campaigners should be demanding an immediate moratorium on all redevelopment and regeneration projects that do not offer tenants a ballot and a like-for-like right to return.  The Haringey fire sale should be binned.  Islington Council must step up  the campaign to use public land in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency (at Holloway Prison) for public housing.  Housing Associations must be brought under democratic control now, by the kind of action residents are taking to stop the gravy-train merger of Notting Hill and Genesis.

To turn yesterday’s speech into action we need a united national campaign to demand decent homes for all.  The summit on 25th November (details here) will be an important step.  Just waiting for Jezza could be a disaster.

 

 

 

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