Government plans to resume legal evictions from 23 August 2020 will escalate the housing crisis. Our joint letter, arguing “It’s not too late to step back from the brink, and ensure no-one loses their home due to the Coronavirus crisis”, is already co-signed by Shelter, the Big Issue, John McDonnell MP, Ken Loach, several Black Lives Matter groups, unions and others. Can you and your group add your support?
Get in touch if there are housing issues we can help with, or if you need a hand. Government plans to resume legal evictions from 23 August, will escalate the housing crisis. Tenants are at the front end of this crisis. Millions are broke, insecure and hungry, as inequality is aggravated by the health and economic crisis.
We want to step up pressure for Government action to stop a wave of evictions, suspend rents for those losing income, pay housing and other benefits from day one, and start work to create 100,000 new council homes. The Prime Minister is promising more investment in public infrastructure – but still leaving council housing off his list. We will work out ways to step up the pressure for investment in new and reclaimed council homes.
At the Grenfell inquiry this week, a QC for the families said “Grenfell is inextricably linked with race. It is the elephant in the room.” That’s why, on Tuesday 14th July 2020 at 7pm on the monthly anniversary of the atrocity, we’re holding an online public meeting, “Grenfell, Housing and Racism”.
Our speakers will be Apsana Begum (MP for Poplar and Limehouse), Abbas Dadou (Chair of a Residents Association near the tower), Kasim Ali (Kensington and Chelsea Councillor), Tanya Murat (Defend Council Housing) and Moyra Samuels (local resident and Stand Up to Racism). We’ll also be joined from the USA by Chivona Newsome, co-founder of Black Lives Matter in New York City.
It promises to be a really interesting and inspiring meeting. Please try to come along and help spread the word. The meeting will be live streamed on the Homes for All Facebook page and YouTube channel, links below:
If you’re on Twitter, there’s a link here you can retweet:
Also earlier this week, the influential National Infrastructure Commission, which advises the government, said council houses are the “only way to reach 300,000 homes goal” (The Times, 8.7.20). In response, Defend Council Housing sent out the following press release:
Sunday 14th June marks three years since the fire at Grenfell Tower. Victims and survivors do not all have permanent homes yet – and three years on, still no-one has been held to account for what happened.
For those who can’t get there, at 6pm 80 London churches will ring bells 72 times to mark those who died. If you are in London, can you organise with others to take banners or posters and stand outside while the bells ring?
Or organise something where you are – making sure you safely observing 2m distancing. Or hold up a solidarity sign from your home or doorstep – and send a selfie photos and messages to Grenfell, and to us here, or on our Facebook page or through Twitter.
Join our online meeting on Tuesday 2nd June, 6.30pm with Mark Slater of Rochdale Seven Sisters campaign; Will McMahon Action on Empty Homes; Labour Homelessness campaign, and Tanya Murat Southwark DCH.
Despite the crisis and lockdown, Housing Association landlords are pushing through rent rises; NottingHill Genesis (NHG) is threatening outrageous 25% rises for NHS staff, teachers and other key workers. Tenant protests have forced NHG to delay these – but tenants are determined to stop this rank profiteering. Do get in touch if you or people you know are affected, or if you can help their campaign.
And you can write to Housing Minister Robert Jenrick, and copy it to your own MP, council leader (and us!). We need to keep up pressure to ensure thousands don’t face evictions at the end of June, and to get funding for a new generation of council homes.
This letter from a Minister dated 18 May 2020, says ‘landlords should be able to carry out routine as well as essential repairs’, making prior arrangements with any households isolating or shielding sick and vulnerable people. It includes guidelines for how work should be done and tenants protected: see links in the document including Coronavirus (Covid19) Guidance for Landlords and Tenants.
We can’t leave our safety to chance – so demand your landlord agrees in advance to stick to the guidelines, and agree a procedure if these are broken. All workers in our blocks and homes need to work safely or not at all.
Work on high rise blocks with unsafe cladding or insufficient fire safety, ‘remains a top priority for the Government’, it claims. (So why are there still at least 357 blocks still with Grenfell-style cladding, and 11,000 blocks with risky cladding, two years on from the Grenfell fire?)
This letter, with important information, has not been sent to any of the 4 million+ tenants so far – so we are publishing it to ensure we can prepare and protect ourselves.
A Homes for All survey is gauging how Coronavirus is affecting its supporters, families and communities. Initial results, from 101 respondents , confirm that Covid-19 is deepening a housing crisis that’s been growing for years. The survey results show:
25% have lost all or some of their income. 9% have had to claim Universal Credit. 15% are struggling to pay rent/mortgage. 10% have fallen into arrears. 17% are worried about falling into arrears.
Private renters are most, and disproportionately affected by the crisis:
39% have lost all or some of their income. 70% are struggling to pay the rent. 50% have fallen into arrears. 73% are worried about falling into arrears.
By comparison, although 28% of those who’ve lost all or some of their income are council tenants, their secure tenancies appear to reduce anxiety at falling into arrears.
Eileen Short of Defend Council Housing (part of the Homes for All alliance) says: “These results are very worrying. They tally with other research showing we’re heading for an explosion of evictions and homelessness unless government takes urgent action to protect tenants who can’t pay the rent due to the Covid crisis. The results also show council housing is the only truly secure affordable rented housing, especially in a crisis. That’s why we’re demanding action to ensure 100,000 new and reclaimed council homes a year as part of the recovery plan.”
As London Renters Union’s Amina Gichinga says: “After lockdown ends, it could go two ways. Renters could face the chaos of rent debt and evictions. Or they could be safe from eviction and able to afford necessities like food and rent.
“That’s not much to ask – but for it to happen, the government needs to suspend rent payments, cancel rent debt and make the evictions ban permanent. Ultimately we need rent controls and more council housing.”
Behind the statistics are people’s lives. Among some of the responses to the Homes for All survey: “It is hard not having any face to face contact with family/friends, as I live on my own in a flat. Also, I do not have a garden or balcony, which increases the time I have to stay inside.”
(15% of responders reported lack of access to open space.)
“I have constant anxiety and fear about money and housing security.”
“I am classed as vulnerable. I’m over 65 and Diabetic. I live in an overcrowded house with one son sleeping on the settee and working making cardboard boxes for lamp shades and another son, a bus driver whose been furloughed.”
“On 27 March, Haringey Council’s management company closed the concierge service and reduced the cleaning service in blocks (no more weekly cleaning of stairways landings and corridors). The risk of infection is obvious.”
Housing pressures are mounting as the health crisis continues. Millions are losing pay, and can’t afford the rent. Or are in unsafe, overcrowded homes. We need to increase pressure on our politicians to act, and support each other to avert misery.
On Saturday 2nd May at 11am our next organising meeting will be held via Zoom. Meeting details will be emailed to our mailing list – email us to join.
With estates still being emptied and demolished, and some sitting empty, along with thousands of other empty homes, we’ll hear from campaigns about how we stop the demolition and get people rehoused now.