Homes for All joined up to 5,000 survivors, residents and others on the Grenfell Silent Walk, Wednesday 14 June 2023.
Six years on from the fire, it is now 72 months since 72 people lost their lives.
All those present vowed to continue the fight for justice and accountability.
As the walk moved off behind the United For Grenfell banner, marchers held placards proclaiming “This much evidence, still no charges”.
The mood was sombre. Many of the marchers, and many more local residents, wore green to symbolise determination to see justice for Grenfell. Firefighters formed an honour guard for the walk.
Speakers at the rally afterwards spelled out the culpability of the suppliers of the dangerous materials used at Grenfell; and the culpability of the local authority which allowed them to be used. There must be jail time, for justice to be done.
The government has already broken its pledge to implement the recommendations of the Grenfell Public Inquiry, because the owners and managers of high rise buildings have not been required to provide Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) for all disabled residents.
Survivors spoke to the rally about their loved ones who died in the fire. Marcia Rigg from the United Friends and Families Campaign also spoke powerfully, linking Grenfell with the campaigns of those whose family members have died at the hands of the police.
Across the UK people are challenging the madness and the unfairness of the housing market. At the forefront of this fight are residents on social housing estates trying to stop demolition of their homes and stop regeneration schemes that are destroying the environment and causing blatant social cleansing.
We are coming together for a national Day of Action to demand
Housing for need not greed
Refurbish Don’t Demolish!
The day of action will involve a variety of actions in local areas where residents are fighting demolition including Lambeth, Southwark, Camden, Bexley and Glasgow, as well as areas where residents are fighting against luxury developments that won’t provide the affordable housing that is desperately needed including Haringey, Islington and Harlow.
A range of campaign groups are supporting the day, such as the Radical Housing Network, Refurbish Don’t Demolish, Housing Rebellion, Homes for All, Social Housing Action Campaign and Defend Council Housing, as well as estate based campaigns, and we will be highlighting all aspects of housing injustice from high rents, to homelessness to disrepair and over-development. We will also be shining a spotlight on the environmental impact of profit-driven development and the fight to save green spaces.
The local actions will range from an exhibition of alternative regeneration plans, to protest rallies and NVDA stunts (non-violent direct action). Every action will aim to bring together local supporters and we will also be linked together in an online rally, live streaming campaigners from each area and reaching a wider national audience.
We want to involve pensioners and students, private renters and temporary housing tenants, trade unionists and climate campaigners and everyone and anyone who cares about everyone having a decent home on a habitable planet!
We invite you to add your group’s name to the list of supporters of the day of action.
If you are able to get involved please send us your organisation’s logo and let us know if you want to organise your own action or if you would like to support a group of residents taking action in a particular area or on a particular issue (eg. anti-demolition, high rents etc,).
We would also love to hear from you if your organisation can provide a speaker or if you can help us with promotion and publicity for the event.
Thanks to everyone who came along and also joined us online to listen and discuss with Peter Apps his book on how and why the Grenfell Fire happened. The meeting contributed to the debate around the need for radical changes to housing policy.
A short video of housing activists who came together to join XR Housing and Radical Housing Network as part of Extinction Rebellion’s week long campaign to highlight the climate emergency and what needs to be done to save the planet.
A snapshot of the six speakers who joined the demand for radical change and action to bring about housing justice for all.
Come and join Peter Apps, Deputy Editor of Inside Housing as he discusses his acclaimed book
Peter Apps reported on fire safety before Grenfell and afterwards. He helped to unpick the lie that flammable cladding had been banned, and so the government had a case to answer about why such materials were on the tower.
Peter reported on the harrowing evidence presented at the public inquiry, detailing every shift and evasion of civil servants and by the manufacturers about how the disaster was allowed to happen.
The chapters in Peter’s book alternate between a sympathetic account of the experience of those inside the tower who were exposed to the horrors of the fire, combined with a detailed examination of how our housing, economic and political systems facilitated the tragedy.
The book is essential reading for all those who are campaigning for justice for the 72 people who died, and to ensure that this never happens again.
Peter will be speaking in person at Bookmarks Bookshop and the event will also be live streamed.
Tuesday 23 May, 6:30pm at Bookmarks, 1 Bloomsbury Street London WC1B 3QE
Homes for All were pleased to welcome Zak, a St Mungo’s worker, to our national organising meeting on Saturday 15 April to tell us of their forthcoming strike.
Zak is a member of Unite and an outreach worker who along with around 600 other members voted overwhelmingly to reject a one off pay offer of £600 and following an imposed pay increase of 1.7% in 2021.
Like many Public Sector workers, Zak and his colleagues worked throughout Covid providing support and care to an often ignored section of society by the state. He spoke of the impact of homelessness on the client group they work with, but also how the cost of living crisis and lack of housing is now affecting his colleagues. As directors’ wages go up, front-line staff face financial hardship and increasing workloads whilst trying to provide a quality of service that their clients deserve.
Zak said the wave of strikes across the UK has given confidence to St Mungo’s workers and that they voted for the maximum strike days of 4 weeks. He talked about the importance of linking up with organisations like Homes for All. We sent solidarity greetings to the strikers and will encourage members to join the picket line.
After the successful round of protests on 14 March Housing Rebellion, led by Refurbish Don’t Demolish, will make its voice heard at the Extinction Rebellion days of protest 21 to 24 April. The XR BIG ONE is four days of mass protest in London focusing on climate justice.
Homes for All has agreed to be a part of it, and send a speaker. We urge all our supporters to attend with their banners, placards and noise!
Radical Housing Network, which is helping to co-ordinate the housing protests said
“Reducing the environmental impact of buildings and construction, while also dealing with the housing crisis, is crucially about addressing the glaring inequality in access to land and housing. Why are some people allowed to own multiple energy-guzzling homes while others are forced to live in overcrowded, or cold, damp and overpriced housing? Why is social housing being demolished to make way for luxury new developments when we know that retrofitting and installing renewable energy would not just be more sustainable for the environment but would also safeguard truly affordable social housing for the next generation? Protesters will be discussing the problems, the solutions and how we work together to get results.”
The protests will take place at the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) on Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
There will be a Housing Rebellion stall at the DLUHC showcasing information from all the various housing campaigns on Friday 21 April from 10am to 6pm and again on Monday the 24 April from 10am to 5pm.
On Friday 21 April at 1pm there will be a street theatre performance about a retrofit house.
On Monday 24 April at 4pm there will be a Housing Rally at Marsham Streetbefore joining thousands of other campaigners to surround parliament at 5pm. A range of speakers will outline the key demands for housing and climate justice, including resident campaigners fighting for refurbishment and against demolition of their homes, architects pushing for sustainable buildings, and politicians who are supporting ‘retrofit first’ and truly affordable housing policies.
‘I’ve always felt these spaces were ours’ is an article on DPAC’s (Disabled People Against Cuts) activism published in the radical academic journal City: analysis of urban change, theory, action.
It is written by Debbie Humphry and based on interviews with DPAC members. It looks at how disability was created as an exclusionary category during industrial capitalism and continues today during contemporary austerity capitalism. It then looks in detail at the fantastic and inspiring activist strategies of the DPAC campaigners and argues that putting disability at the centre of anti-capitalist and urban struggles is crucial.
The article also has great photos by Paula Peters (DPAC).
Many thanks to DPAC for their time, the interviews and for reading and approving the article.
Campaigners in the group Housing Rebellion hope to make a few unannounced ‘site visits’ to some of the worst climate culprits in the property industry to say ‘Refurbish Don’t Demolish’; ‘Create low-energy, low-cost, warm, dry homes for all’; ‘Provide housing for people and planet not profit’.
This is a welcome unification of demands to stop the climate emergency and demands to ensure homes for people not profit. This is something Homes for All and our supporting organisations have paid more attention to in recent years including our involvement with Yes to Fair Redevelopment, the Campaign Against Empty Homes and other local campaigns against demolition and gentrification. It points to the need for a system-wide challenge to the way society is organised, depriving people of decent homes and a livable planet.
Trade unions, the Mayors of London, Greater Manchester, and Liverpool, the Green Party, think tanks and other organisations have joined London Renters Union (LRU) in calling for Michael Gove to freeze private rents.
1 in 2 private renters nationally are struggling with housing costs, with 4 in 5 London renters hit hard by unaffordable housing.
Thursday 23 February: Trade unions, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram, leaders of the Green party, think tanks and charities have signed an open letter calling on Michael Gove to implement a Scotland-style freeze on private rents and an eviction ban to tackle the current rental crisis.
As wages hit a near 20-year low forcing half a million workers to strike earlier this month, rents continue to skyrocket at record rates. 1 in 2 private renters nationally are struggling with housing costs, with the situation even more severe in London. LRU members reported average rent rises of £3400 (20.5%) in December, nearly double the 12% national figure.
Millions trapped in an unaffordable private rental sector are forced to cut back on essential spending or face the threat of homelessness. Evictions are on the rise, as landlords use no-fault section 21 to force out tenants unable to accept unaffordable rent rises, still legal despite the government’s 2019 promise to abolish the clause.
The NEU, RMT, CWU and UNISON are among the unions to throw their support behind the call, whose members are being squeezed by falling pay and rising housing costs. The open letter states that a temporary freeze on private rents is the best policy to address the scale and urgency of the current affordability crisis. The government must also abolish unfair evictions and introduce the long-overdue Renters Reform Bill to improve housing standards. The letter was also signed by Mayors and council leaders in Hackney, Newham, Brent and Wandsworth.
LRU launched a campaign in December calling for a rent freeze, after Scotland’s tenants union Living Rent won a similar commitment in Scotland. Public support to bring back rent regulations is mounting with the Mayor of London and other local authorities calling for devolved powers to introduce caps on unaffordable rent rises.
Kirsty, LRU Member, says: “As a teacher, my pay has not risen in line with inflation, and the 5% offer from the government does not cover rising rents and the cost of living. After my last landlord tried to raise the rent, I had no choice but to move further away from work. I was soon signed off sick due to the stress of the move and the increase to my commute. Now, only one year into our new tenancy, our landlord has asked for another £1200 in rent. I feel like I’m back to square one.”
Bekah, LRU Member, says: “After refusing a £100 rent rise in our previous house, our landlord evicted us and listed the property for £300 more. We felt sad, angry and like a great injustice had happened to us, but it was all completely legal. We were forced to move to a significantly more expensive house and now we are facing a rent rise once again. We are already anxious about our food shop and energy prices, and this rent rise will only add further stress. I feel very precarious right now and a rent freeze would give me some peace of mind.”
Liam Miller, LRU Spokesperson, says: “Millions are being squeezed by falling wages and rising rents. The government has the power to protect people from unaffordable rent rises, but it is choosing instead to preside over a wild west rental market that is punishing the people who kept the country going through the pandemic. A rent freeze now is the only way to address the scale and urgency of the crisis, and would represent a step towards a stronger housing system that meets everyone’s needs.”