A ‘Vote for Homes’ protest marched to Downing Street today.
The noisy protest put housing as a central issue in the coming election. Council, housing association and private renter tenants, trade unions, homeless and community campaigns, joined to demand action to control rents, build council homes and scrap the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which threatens existing and future tenant rights and homes.
A letter signed by film maker Ken Loach, academic and author Danny Dorling, the Bishops of Stepney, Southwark, Croydon and others, Generation Rent, Demolition Watch London, plus trade unions and many others, was symbolically delivered to 10 Downing Street.
See letter with signatures here:
Launching the ‘Housing at the Crossroads’ election letter earlier, supporters explained why they signed the letter:
Tawanda Nyabango, secretary of the West Ham and Canning Town One Housing Tenants and Residents Association, said:
“We are coming together to fight for our rights. Nurses and teachers facing a 40 per cent rent rise demand, have had their pay capped so their real income is falling. We want to link up with tenants of other housing associations, and trade unions, to build a bigger housing campaign movement.”
Jelane Stevic, tenants’ campaign St Michael’s Gate Peterborough sent a message:
“Nearly all the people who lived in St Michael’s Gate a year ago have lost their home. It could be you next. Past governments have failed us. That’s why I’m supporting this statement and demanding decent, secure homes and rent control for all.”
Niall Mulholland, of London Cooperative Housing Group, said:
“All parties in this election need to commit to scrap the Housing and Planning Act, and invest massively in social housing. Housing co-ops are an important part of the housing we need, and need land to develop more. They do not replace council and housing associations and that’s why we are part of this movement. The Housing Act 2016 is still a threat.”
Judith Amanthis, of Housing Association Residents Action, said:
“Housing associations are being deregulated due to the Housing and Planning Act. They are pushing up rents: Genesis is demanding a 177 per cent rent increase from secure tenants, many pensioners. The National Housing Federation is just acting as a bosses’ club for housing associations. The Housing Association Residents Action group wants to help link up HA groups.”
Seb Klier, of Generation Rent, said:
“There are more private renters in the UK than voted for the last Government. Private renting is now a cause of poverty and homelessness. People aren’t moving into it as a lifestyle choice, it’s because there’s no alternative. We want rent controls – not just caps – and security from eviction for private renters. We also want to see more council housing, and to link our housing campaigns together. We need an organised, mass private renters movement – it will be a massive force for change if we are organised.”
Suz Muna, Unite Housing Workers
“We need to link housing campaigns to the wider campaigns against austerity. This election is a clear choice for all of us, as housing workers, tenants and leaseholders.”
John Grier, Leeds Hands off our Homes, said:
“I remember when I first saw the film ‘Cathy come Home’ and it made me cry. We are going back to those days. I was privileged to grow up in council housing – now in Leeds there is spreading homelessness everywhere and 25,000 on the housing waiting list. This is not a London crisis – it’s a national housing crisis.”
Paul Burnham, Haringey DCH campaign against demolition, said:
“The key thing we have to win is a vote for residents before any estate can be demolished. We have a right! The demolition of council housing must stop – it’s social cleansing.”
Eileen Short of Axe the Housing Act, which co-ordinated the letter and protest, said:
“The election matters. And whatever the result, we will be back here on 24 June. The pressure of campaigns has helped put housing on the political agenda. We are determined to keep it there.”
All Photographs by Debbie Humphry.