Press Releases

Press Releases

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Sweets Way Estate housing occupation kicks off with community fun day

From Barnet Housing Action Group
8th March 2015

Tenants and activists have occupied a prominent empty house on the Sweets Way estate in Barnet to highlight the community being destroyed by Annington Homes’ ‘redevelopment’ plans, as eviction of 150 family homes is underway.

This morning, metal covers were removed from the doors and windows of a recently emptied Sweets Way flat, opening the space to the public as part of a short-term political occupation by activists and tenants. The action was inspired by Focus E15, the East London campaign launched by 29 young mothers facing evictions, who fought to be rehoused locally, occupying four flats on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford in September 2014.

Like the Focus E15 Open House, the Sweets Way social centre aims to highlight the social cleansing of a London community, while providing space for residents to organise together for decent homes.

Property developer Annington Homes is committed to just 11% ‘affordable’ homes in the planned re-development of Sweets Way estate.

Most of the families of Sweets Way have already faced eviction from the estate and are currently residing in temporary occupation across London. The occupation kicks off with current and former residents coming together at a fun day to celebrate the community they have built in the past five years

Children have been at the centre of the Sweets Way campaign, with a viral video featuring young people evicted from the estate describing the impact of evictions on their families’ health, their education and community, recently featured in the Guardian.

Rejane Barbosa, one of the remaining Sweets Way residents said: “How can they do this without having any other local housing available for these families, how can they do this to do the community? How does Barnet Homes justify demolishing 150 perfectly good family homes, while leaving the community who have been living there for more than five years with nowhere to go?

“They’re uprooting people and rehousing them many miles away, far from Barnet! Our community has come together and supported one another through this awful period, while Barnet Homes has utterly neglected to find decent affordable homes in the area.”

Jasmin Stone, one of the original Focus E15 mums from Newham, who is taking part in the occupation at Sweets Way said: “I support the Sweets Way campaign because it’s important we all have decent secure homes. It’s time we take back what is being taken from us and demand council housing for all.”

Those involved are committed to leaving the space in better condition than they found it in, and to leave peacefully after a period decided with the wider community.

The social centre is supported by residents, as well as campaigns Barnet Housing Action Group, Our West Hendon and Focus E15.

High res images of the occupation & interviews are available.

For more information contact: sweetswayresists@gmail.com / barnet.hag@gmail.com / Liam on 07775 732 383

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/720272474760037 / T: @SweetsWayN20

VIDEO – The children of Sweets Way speak: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyeD-x-uDCA

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Londoners call protest to Block Boris and demand budget to tackle housing crisis

20th February 2015

 

  • Housing campaigners say we need a budget for London
  • Block Boris protest at City Hall 23 Feb, 9am
  • Protest follows London-wide week of action, eviction resistance and estate occupations

 

 

Londoners have called a protest on Feb 23 to Block the Mayor’s budget as it goes to vote at City Hall. Housing campaigners and tenants groups will join a protest that will feature music and visual installations – to illustrate that Boris’ budget is for the rich only, and not about creating homes for ordinary Londoners.

The protest is the culmination of a city wide week of action called by the Radical Housing Network, bringing together campaigners, social housing tenants and private renters to fight for housing justice. Events have included a ‘Love Council Housing’ day of films, direct actions and debates, as well as an occupation of flats in the Guinness Estate in Brixton to protest tenant evictions – where yesterday residents claimed victory following the Guinness Trust’s decision to delay the eviction of an assured shorthold tenant (AST) on the estate.

Guinness residents are among those joining the protest to ‘Block the Budget’ on Feb 23, which includes community-based housing campaigns Focus E15, New Era and Our West Hendon. Also attending the protest are tenants and participants in a political occupation of the Aylesbury estate in South London.

City Hall votes on the budget next Monday, but with no new money set aside for social housing, ‘Boris’s budget’ means more sell-offs of council housing and vast swathes of public land, leading to further rent-hikes and an acceleration of the housing crisis that grows more acute daily.

Campaigners say Boris won’t meet his target of 100,000 ‘affordable’ homes by the end of 2016 – and at 80% of market rents these homes are not affordable for most Londoners. The Shared Ownership scheme is only accessible to the best-off and ‘Home Zones’ and the London Housing Bank are subsidies for private developers. Meanwhile, the Mayor has removed the ability of local authorities to apply rent controls on new developments.

Last week, the RHN submitted a Freedom of Information request to find out about developments on land sold by the Greater London Authority, where the development includes residential units.

Campaigners at the #BlocktheBudget protest are calling Boris to set a budget for London:

  • Increase quota of affordable housing on new developments and set truly affordable rents
  • Start work for rent controls in London’s private rented sector
  • Restrict buy to let and act against unfair evictions
  • Stop demolition and privatisation of council housing and build more social housing

A spokesperson for the Radical Housing Network said: “Boris talks the talk on housing but rather than acting to stop it, our Mayor is fast-tracking social cleansing. Londoners are in desperate need of secure, genuinely affordable housing yet Boris Johnson, the most powerful politician in London with a housing budget close to two billion pounds at his fingertips, is acting and speaking on behalf of rich developers.

“Londoners are taking direct action and fighting back, protecting homes by occupying their estates.”

Betiel Mehari, resident, Guinness Estate: “The Guinness Estate re-development is backed and funded by the London Mayor with public money, to demolish social housing and replace it with expensive flats for private sale. The sort of London our Mayor is creating is not for ordinary people. We need to link up with other campaigns and fight the Mayor at every level – that’s why we’re blocking Boris on the 23rd.”

Janette Evans, campaigner, West Hendon Estate: “Boris Johnson needs to understand that selling off our public land to the highest bidder is not acceptable and not the answer to London’s housing crisis. London is becoming a city for the rich only – but ordinary people are rising up and uniting and will fight for their right to a home.”

The Radical Housing Network is made up of groups fighting for housing justice, based in London. The network defends affordable and council homes and opposes social cleansing and evictions. Members of the network include the E15 campaigners in Newham; campaigners for the Our West Hendon estate in Barnet; and many other housing groups and campaigns.

Radical Housing Network led the demonstration at Mipim last year, when the world’s largest private property fair came to London to feast on UK housing.

Block the Budget protest 9am Monday 23 February, City Hall, the Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA.
Full details of the Radical Housing Network’s Week of Action: www.radicalhousingnetwork.org Twitter @radicalhousing #housingaction #BlocktheBudget

Notes to editors

Read more – Guinness Estate redevelopment and campaign
Read more – Aylesbury Estate occupation
Read more – Our West Hendon campaign

Interviews with people affected by the housing crisis & housing campaigners are available.
For interviews & further information please contact radicalhousingnetwork@gmail.com

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Londoners call week of action to save council housing and public land from London’s Mayor

13 February 2015

– Love Council Housing Day 14 Feb
– Protest to Block Mayor’s Budget 23 Feb
– Campaigners submit FOI request on London’s public land sales

Londoners are holding a week of action across the capital to stop the further destruction of council housing stock, halt public land sales and demand a budget for London to tackle the housing crisis, ahead of the 2015 Mayoral budget.

The Radical Housing Network (RHN) brings together campaigners, social housing tenants and private renters to fight for housing justice. Events are planned London-wide as part of a Week of Action, beginning this Saturday 14 Feb and ending with a protest to block Boris Johnson’s Budget on 23 Feb.

The RHN has submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to find out about developments on land sold by the Greater London Authority (GLA), where the development includes residential units.

Campaigners are asking for information on any new developments on former GLA land, including the number of housing units to be sold at full market price and the numbers available at ‘affordable’ and social rents. The FOI also requests the sale price of the land from the GLA to the developer and where any income received (from land sales) by the GLA is to be spent.

City Hall votes on the budget on 23 Feb but with no new money set aside for social housing, ‘Boris’s budget’ means more sell-offs of council housing and vast swathes of public land, leading to further rent-hikes.

Housing is the third most important issue for Londoners, yet the housing crisis grows more acute by the day – the story is of ‘affordable homes’ that few can afford, rising eviction rates and the destruction of communities – all overseen by a Mayor determined to accelerate London’s housing crisis.

A spokesperson for the Radical Housing Network said: “London in the 20th Century was a city open to everyone thanks to publicly owned land and housing. Now what is at stake is a future of exclusive gated communities and declining ghettos, or a city for the super-rich only.

“We want the Mayor to tell us what’s happened to the 400 plus hectares of public land – equivalent in area to 500 international football pitches – sold-off to the highest bidder under his watch. Londoners are in desperate need of secure, genuinely affordable housing yet Boris Johnson, the most powerful politician in London with a housing budget close to two billion pounds at his fingertips, is acting and speaking on behalf of rich developers.”

The Radical Housing Network is made up of groups fighting for housing justice, based in London. The network defends affordable and council homes and opposes social cleansing and evictions. Members of the network include the E15 campaigners in Newham; campaigners from the Our West Hendon estate in Barnet; and many other housing groups and campaigns.

Radical Housing Network led the demonstration at Mipim last year, when the world’s largest private property fair came to London to feast on UK housing.

Numerous events are taking place during the week of action culminating in a Block the Budget protest – 9am Monday 23 February, City Hall, the Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA.

Other events include:

Saturday 14 Feb – Lambeth Housing Activists are holding ‘love council housing’ stalls around Lambeth, including outside Brixton tube station at 11am. Similar events are also being held in Lewisham and Tower Hamlets while West Hendon is hosting a ‘love your estate’ celebration of community spirit.

Sunday 15 Feb – Aylesbury estate occupation and Brick Lane Debates are hosting a community debate.

Wednesday 18 Feb – Unite Community Waltham Forest are holding a ‘show me the way to go home’ demonstration in protest at the scandalous treatment of thousands of residents forced out of the borough, having been made homeless.

Thursday 19 Feb – Stop bailiffs evicting a family. Meet 09.30 at Elveden House, Loughborough Park, Brixton, SW9 8NN.

Full details of the Radical Housing Network’s Week of Action: www.radicalhousingnetwork.org

Notes to editors

Interviews with people affected by the housing crisis & housing campaigners are available.

For interviews & further information please contact radicalhousingnetwork@gmail.com