Category Archives: Housing and Homelessness

The Bastards Want Our Homes: Join The New Era Estate Tenants And Let’s Show Them We Intend To Fight

new-eraTenants on the New Era Estate in Hackney have been threatened with the ultimate revenge eviction by shadowy property developers and investment firm  Westbrook Partners.

The New Era estate has provided homes at affordable rents to local people since the 1930s – although current rents of around £600 a month are hardly cheap for someone on a low income.  When the properties were bought by Westbrook earlier in the year rents were immediately hiked by 10%.  Then residents were informed that the company planned to bring rents up to the same levels as the local private sector, where even small flats can fetch well over £2000 a month.

Alongside Westbrook in this nasty attempt at social cleansing were Benyon Estates who also bought a small stake in the properties.  This company is owned by Tory Richard Benyon, believed to be the UK’s richest MP.  A series of bold and well supported protests recently led this company to sell their stake in the estate.  The response from Westbrook was immediate, with residents receiving notice from the local council that the company would no longer honour an agreement to freeze rents until 2016 and even suggested that the tenants could be evicted before Christmas.

The tenants have vowed to continue their fight, beginning with a twitterstorm tomorrow to help bring attention to the vile Westbrook Partners. This is a fight that needs to be won.  A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warned that millions more people are set to face poverty due to soaring rents.  In truth it’s happening already.  As wages and benefits shrink, rents continue to soar in many parts of the country.  That money ends up in the pockets of faceless greedy bastards like Westbrook Managing Principal Mark Donner.  It’s time to show the world who they are and hold them to account for their destruction of our homes and communities.

For the latest news follow the New Era campaign @newera4all

Please sign and share the petition calling for the residents to be able to stay in their homes: https://www.change.org/p/new-era-should-not-become-the-end-of-an-era

Join the twitterstorm tomorrow (Weds 19th Nov between 1 and 6pm) which will target those involved in the estate’s current management – namely: @RealDonnor  @knightfrank  @onlywillneale  @KF_JRPhillips  @StephenJClifton @Nick_Braybrook  @KFResDev

Please help spread the word.  You can also find the tenants on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/neweraestatetenants

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Millionaires Threaten Protest March If They Have To Pay A Little Bit Of Tax

griff-fuck

Following the cringe-making intervention of a hasbeen comedian, now posh twats are threatening a protest over any future mansion tax calling it a ‘humanitarian’ issue.

An article in the Ham and High newspaper reveals that Hampstead millionaires may even be planning a march against the proposed tax – although for now they have settled on a petition to the Labour Party.

One dismayed toff, art dealer James Butterwick, claims he may even have to close his – by invitation only – art gallery where he stores his collection of “museum quality paintings with flawless provenance.”  Is your heart bleeding?  Mine fucking isn’t.

Of course Butterwick is most worried about his dear old mam who lives in a house worth a mere £4 million and can’t afford to pay any more tax*.  Yet according to Butterworth’s linkedin page, his family could afford to send him to Eton College.

Hundreds of thousands of households are currently under threat of losing their home since the introduction of the Bedoom Tax.  Just down the road from Hampstead, young mothers are being socially cleansed from the capital due to the Benefit Cap, soaring rents and the desperate shortage of social housing.  The response from the rich has been to openly mock or turn their backs.  Yet now they expect us all to take their whining seriously just because someone has suggested they actually make a fair contribution towards the public services they depend on.  This is the real something for nothing culture.  They want the hospitals, the police, their bins emptying and the tree-lined streets.  But they don’t want to fucking pay for it.  That’s why they only pay a tiny fraction of their wealth in Council Tax compared to the rest of us.

Labour’s proposed mansion tax doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.  It is true it affects more people in London, but that’s because London has lots of rich people.  And London has a lot more poor people and many of them don’t have a home at all.  There are no Hampstead millionaires planning a protest march about that.

If you’ve heard enough from the arrogant rich join the Poor Doors demo tomorrow (Wednesday 12th November, 6pm 1 Commercial St, E1) which could see the biggest and most boisterous turn out yet after last week’s vindictive arrests.  Then on November 22nd head to Fitzroy Square to tell Griff Rhys Jones to fuck off if he doesn’t want to pay a little bit of tax on one of his mansions.  Class War will be announcing the details of their own Mansion Tax policy at this event.  Let’s make the rich feel uncomfortable for a change.

*It is hard to believe that anyone living in a £2 million pound house is actually that poor.  There is an easy solution however to the so-called problem of older people who have low incomes  but are living in houses that have increased sharply in value.  The handful judged to be in genuine need could pay the tax in the form of equity on their houses, to be recovered from their estates when they die.  Then they’d have nothing to complain about.  Alternatively they could take in a lodger or try and work a few more hours, the advice given by the government to people facing the Bedroom Tax.

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Burning Boris Sparks Arrests At Poor Doors Demo

poor-doorsTwo people were arrested last night after an unprovoked attack by police on a lively and good-natured protest against the notorious ‘poor doors’ in London.

Around a hundred people gathered outside the swanky entrance of 1 Commercial Street – a luxury block of flats with a handful of social housing properties included.  A weekly demonstration has been held outside the building ever since it emerged that the tenants living in social housing are forced to use a different door to the toffs occupying the posh flats.

Last night’s protest saw an effigy of London Mayor Boris Johnson burst into flames whilst an angry mob chanted “Burn Boris Burn”.  A heavy police presence looked on, but the mood remained jovial and defiant as people waved sparklers, whilst occassional red flares added some Bonfire Night pizazz.  After Boris was reduced to a pile of simmering embers, a clearly amused member of the fire brigade tipped water over the Mayor’s remains after instructions from police.

The protest, as on previous weeks, was scheduled to end at 7pm.  At around five to seven, just as things were starting to wind down, police lurched into the crowd grabbing several of the fantastically named Class War Women’s Death Brigade who were dancing with a banner.  Their target was Jane Nicholl, a member of the group and long standing supporter of the Poor Doors protest.  Despite valiant attempts from the crowd to release her, Jane was bundled into the back of a police van which was then promptly surrounded by protesters shocked at this senseless and unprovoked arrest.  Police reinforcements soon arrived and punchy coppers with dogs began to push protesters away leading to one more person being detained.

The arrest of Jane Nicholl, who was refused her medication and threatened with ludicrous arson charges, reveals a sinister pattern of events.  The only previous arrest at the these protests was of her partner and anarchist blogger Ian Bone, a high profile member of Class War who helped to instigate the demonstrations  It appears that the police are trying to force people off the streets by targetting and arresting those they have decided are ring leaders.  The only possible response to that is for as many people as possible to get down to next week’s Poor Doors protest and show the bastards we will not be intimidated.

Both Jane and the other person arrested were finally relased in the middle of the night.  Freedom Bookshop have issued a call for witness statements to help with any upcoming court cases.

Please helps spread the word: Poor Doors Demo, every Wednesday, 6pm, 1 Commercial Street, E1, next to Aldgate East tube

Pic: Guy Smallman

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Griff Rhys Jones Is A Joke That’s Not Funny, Let’s Make Sure He Fucking Knows It

Fitzroy_Square_London

Fitzroy Square, that Griff Rhys Jones says was a slum until he moved in.

This rich often conceal their arrogance and sense of entitlement under a cloak of humility or even fake concern for the normal people whose work and money funds their lavish existence.  But not Griff Rhys fucking Jones whose recent comments about the proposed mansion tax reveal the ugly face of greed and privilege.

Most people under 35 probably don’t have a clue who he is.  He rose to fame as the one who wasn’t funny on the BBC’s satirical Not The Nine O’Clock News Show in the 1980s before going on to become comedian Mel Smith’s sidekick in a series of boring television shows.  Now he seems to have one of the weird deals that vaguely famous smug twats get with the BBC where all they have to do is go on holiday and the station will send along a licence-payer funded camera crew and pay them vast sums of our money for doing fuck all.

Despite this gilded existence he never stops whining.  In his latest outburst he whinges that he will move abroad if any tax is introduced on his luxury central London home that he says was a slum when he moved in 15 years ago.  They really think this way.  If they move into a mansion that could do with a lick of paint then they think then they are hard done by, like a poor person.  Never mind that he also owns a huge property in Suffolk that he never stops complaining about either. 

Of course what he’s really pissed off about is that he’s made millions out of  London’s soaring house prices and now might have to pay a meagre tax on his windfall.  The same housing boom that has made much of the capital unaffordable for normal people who unlike Griff actually have to work for a living.  He just expects money to keep falling from the sky.  This is the kind of swaggering audacity that has seen the rich dragged from their beds and murdered in more enlightened periods of history.

If Gryff Rhy Jones had been born on a council estate he’d probably be a junior manager at some Wonga branch now, taking out his bitterness on the staff he considers beneath him because they earn 50p less an hour than he does.  That’s if he managed to climb that high.  He’s quite likely to have ended up sitting in Wetherspoons all day boring people shitless with his embarrassing attempts at being funny and trying to blag a pint off anyone unlucky enough to sit down next to him.

But instead he went to public school and then Cambridge ensuring that even someone of his mediocre talent could rise through the media elite to become a very rich man.  Its about who you know and how much money you’ve got, not what you know in his world.  It’s certainly not about what you do, because Griff Rhys Jones hasn’t actually done very much at all.  Yet he still gets to lecture us from the pages of The Daily Telegraph where he says he says he’s not going to ‘squeal’ just because that’s what people want from the rich.

It’s time to make an example of someone.  If Griff Rhys Jones doesn’t like it here then he should fuck off as quickly and quietly as possible.  Or better still be deported.  Until he goes he should be reminded every single day what people think of over-privileged self-entitled parasites like him.  We don’t want you Griff.  And neither does anyone else.

The newly energised Class War have called a demo in Fitrovia Square on  Saturday November 22nd from noon where they will be calling on Griff Rhys Jones to fuck off. 

In the meantime tomorrow’s Poor Doors demo outside 1 Commercial Street, London E1 has a bonfire night theme.  Others are planning fun and games in central London.  Help this year’s Guy Fawkes Night go with a bang and get out on the streets.

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The Virus Is Coming … Working Class Areas Face Influx Of Wankers

catford-greenLondon’s last few remaining working class areas are facing an influx of chinless fucking idiots as luxury flats spring up like a virus rampaging to the outskirts of the capital.

One of Boris Johnson’s last acts of public vandalism before he scuttles away to play politics in Westminster has been to declare parts of London as ‘Opportunity Areas’.  What he means is opportunities for landlords and property developers, not the residents of places like Catford, Wembly and Croydon who will slowly be decanted, evicted and priced out of their homes and communities.

Catford Green isn’t even a fucking place, but that’s the name of the plush new development being built by Barratt Homes on the previously abandoned Catford dogtrack.  It should have been called Catford Wasteland, because that’s what is was for the previous decade until someone worked out how to make some money from it.  Now this prime site, next to the river and the parkland of Ladywell Fields, is to be turned into posh flats that nobody local can afford.

Previously Catford Town Centre had been left to little more than a managed decline with the only significant act of recent years being the abrupt close of the eccentric indoor market and its replacement with a giant Poundland.  Now no expense is to be spared as Lewisham Council welcomes this influx of latte slurpng wankers into one of the poorest parts of London.  The same local authority that recently closed four libraries is planting trees, sprucing up shop fronts and has even bought out the leaseholds of many local businesses – no doubt to ensure only the right kind of shops in the future.  The kind that current residents won’t be able to afford to shop in.

Gentrification is not just a London phenomena.  Every time the rich find somewhere nice, interesting or convenient that’s ours they will try to take it away.  From the villages of the North Yorkshire moors to  Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, they want it fucking all.  Half the time they don’t even bother living there.  They still want it though.

But they don’t want us.  As the rich move in rents soar whilst parasites like Starbucks, Waitrose and Foxtons suck money out of local economies and shut down long standing local businesses.  Young people face increased harassment from police everytime some stupid yuppy twat manages to get themselves mugged for their iphone.  And slowly areas full of life, love and creativity turn into bland middle class Disneylands full of arseholes jabbering into smartphones about property prices all day.

The contempt these invaders hold for those whose homes they are stealing is easily found.  Just take a look at the comments of this article where someone who calls themselves a Guardianista complains that Catford Town Centre is “full of the ugliness described by some commenters already, drunks, junkies and other unsavoury types”.

Not to worry some wanker responds.  Catford’s “rough-round-the-edges charm” just needs to be “garnished with some of the pop-up pep of street food”.  Pass the fucking sick bag.

Across London, and around the UK, people are starting to fight back.  Whether communities uniting to challenge the Bedroom Tax, or the Focus E15 mums forcing the council to open up empty flats to homeless people, there is resistance everywhere. The weekly demonstrations against the odious ‘poor doors’ in Whitechapel are going from strength to strength – with an upcoming bonfire night theme protest looking lively.  In Barnet residents being thrown out of their council flats to make way for new posh flats have blockaded the building site costing the developers thousands.  This is the only thing these bastards understand.  Get in their fucking faces and cost them money.  Let’s not give up our homes and communities without the fight of our lives.

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Boom Time For Landlords, The UK’s Soaring Housing Benefit Bill

landlord-772876Whilst the Tory Party pat themselves on the back at conference for the misery their welfare reforms have caused, recently updated benefit expenditure figures  make a mockery of any claims that these vicious cuts were carried out to save money.

Housing Benefit (or Local Housing Allowance) makes up one of the largest parts of social security spending and every last penny of it goes to landlords.  Ever since this government weren’t elected they have made brutal cuts to this vital benefit which pays for the UK’s poorest people to have a roof over theirs heads.  Despite this the Housing Benefit bill is soaring and expcted to rise even further.

£24.8 billion was handed out to landlords in the form of Housing Benefit cheques in 2012/13 – the latest year for which exact figures are available.  This is a rise of £2.7 billion, in real terms annual spending on Housing Benefit since the Tories came to power.

Much of this increase is in payments to private sector landlords rather than towards  housing association or council rents.  But it is not soaring private rents that have caused the increase in spending, Housing Benefit rises are now capped at 1% annually whilst total caps on the amount landlords can receive are in place in high rent areas such as the South East of England.  It is claimants who have had to absorb the cost of rent rises, out of already meagre benefits.

Nor is the rise due to people who are unemployed.  Less than £4 bilion of the £24.8 bilion total Housing Benefit spend pays for accommodation for people on unemployment benefits.  Much of the rise is due to new claimants who are in work, which shows the true picture of the UK’s labour market.

Housing Benefit provides a good indicator of how many people in the UK are poor.  It is available to those in or out of work, as well as pensioners.  The only criteria for help with rent payments is an income low enough to qualify and less than £16,000 in assets.  The Tories may claim that the recovery is in full swing, and thousands of pretend jobs have been created, but that doesn’t change the harsh fact that there are now more people poor than at any point since the Housing Benefit system began.

This is reflected in the number of people actually claiming the benefit, which hit a record 5.05 million in 2012/13.  This figure has fallen slightly since last year – by around 25 thousand – but is forecast to rise again and is still almost half a million people higher than in 2009/10.

Surprisingly, another factor that may be driving up the Housing Benefit bill could well be the bungled attempts at cost-cutting reforms – the most notorious being the Bedroom Tax.  There has been no better gift to the landlord class than this nasty policy which is driving people out of secure homes at low, social rents and into the out of control and hugely expensive private sector.  Even the Benefit Cap might be increasing spending on Housing Benefits as families evicted due to no longer being able to afford the rent are rehoused by local authorities in emergency temorary accommodation which can be eye-wateringly expenisve.  Last year the BBC reported on families being placed in £3000 a week hotels after being made homeless due to caps on housing benefits.  The most recent homelessness figures showed the number of families living in B&Bs is at a five year high.

Many tenants are struggling with desperate poverty after cuts to Housing Benefits.  Some Bedroom Tax victims are now paying up to a third of their meagre benefit payments towards the rent.  Yet the cost of Housing Benefit is soaring.  All Iain Duncan Smith has created is more poverty at more cost to the tax payer.  Whatever your political persuasion that is nothing to be fucking cheering about.

You can download the most recent Benefit Expenditure tables at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/benefit-expenditure-and-caseload-tables-2014

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Something Is Stirring In The Capital: The Fight Against Social Cleansing Bursts Into Life

poor-doorsWith the Tory’s threatening a new benefit cap and cuts to Local Housing Allowance if they win the next election, it is unsurprising that London’s fucked housing market is emerging as a key site of struggle in the capital.

Two diffrent events this week will highlight the grotesque inequality in a city where global billionaires buy luxury penthouses to keep empty as investments whilst people sleep in the streets below

Wednesday (1st October – tomorrow!) the biggest demonstration against the Poor Doors so far is set to take place.  This weekly protest, outside 1 Commercial Street E1, began after it emerged that the residents in the meagre supply of social housing in this yuppy block of flats are forced to use a different door to the toffs who occupy the luxury properties.

The protests are now in their 10th week and are growing.  Last week the lobby of the building was briefly cccupied, whilst veteran anarchist and fellow blogger Ian Bone, who has supported the protests, was arrested.  Unbowed Bone says tomorrow is likely to be the crunch as Redrow* and the TSG (riot cops) throw their resources into maintaining apartheid in central London…..we’ve got to win this one.”  Get down to 1 Commercial Street, E1 from 6pm, Wednesday October 1st and show the rich they are the ones who are not welcome in the East End borough of Tower Hamlets. 

*Redrow are the property developers behind the poor doors, you can find them on twitter @RedrowLondon

Then on Thursday 2nd October the Focus E15 mums have called for support outside the courts where Newham Council will attempt to have them evicted from the flats they have occupied on the Carpenter’s Estate in Stratford.

This group of local single parents have been fighting for secure housing for their children ever since they were kicked out of a hostel that Newham Council decided to close to save money.  They have been told they face being socially cleansed from the city and could be rehoused as far away as Manchester.

After repeatedly being snubbed by nasty piece of shit Robin Wales, the Labour Mayor of Newham, last week the group occupied several empty flats on the Carpenter’s Estate which is set to be demolished – no doubt to make way for more yuppy flats.  The council are seeking a possession order at Bow County Court this week and the E15 mothers have called for support – be outside the courts at 96 Romford Rd E15 4EG from 9.30am Thursday October 2nd.

You can also follow the campaign on twitter @FocusE15 and @E15OpenHouse or join them on facebook.

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL) have also been fighting against evictions due to welfare reforms and rampant gentrification, follow them @HousingActionSL  Residents of West Hendon Estate in Barnet have faced arrests after fighting the destruction of their homes to make way for million pound flats.  Join their facebook page for more details.

And that’s not all as resistance to austerity, forced work and shit housing bursts back into life.  Next week sees a Week of Action Against Workfare with events already announced in Edinburgh, Bristol, Brighton, Haringey, Central London and even Amsterdam!  Online actions are also set to take place, keep an eye on the Boycott Workfare website for full details.

Meznwhile Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are calling on people to crash the Tory Party Conference Twittersphere by hijacking their hashtag #CPC14.  Send your own tweets or visit DPAC’s website for some of theirs.

Please tweet, blog, share and spread the word about all events and join in if you can.

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