Category Archives: Housing and Homelessness

Begging Is A Lifestyle Choice Says Leeds Councillor As Homelessness Charities Launch The Nastiest Campaign Yet

think-before-you-give

Leeds City Council have teamed up with the police and so-called charities, to come up with the nastiest campaign yet aimed at discouraging the public from giving a bit of spare change to homeless people.

The above poster has been placed at key sites across the city warning people not to give money to beggars because it may help fuel their addictions.  As ever the homelessness industry demands that people give the money to them instead so they can spend it on drink soaked conferences in posh hotels that cost £700 quid a ticket.

No thought at all seems to have been given about how this campaign will further stigmatise homeless people who already often face abuse and even violence from some members of the public. Those attacks will now be more likely as homeless people are smeared as addicts or drunks by the very organisations that claim to be on their side.  The dehumanisation of the very poorest is no longer just coming from the pages of the right wing press.

The truth is that the homelessness industry’s own figures show that only around half of street homeless people have a drink or drug problem.  And even these people still need to eat.  All that campaigns like these achieve – if they are successful – is that homeless people who do have drug or alcohol dependencies are forced to beg for longer.  No-one is going to give up smack because some bunch of fucking idiots have put a few posters on the walls after all.  Meanwhile those forced to beg because their benefits have been sanctioned are left to go hungry.  But then this is just a lifestyle choice according to Leeds Labour Councillor Mark Dobson.

What people in poverty need is more money, however it comes   There is plenty of research which shows this.  Yet this research is repeatedly ignored, not just by politicians obsessed with cutting benefits, but also by charities whose bosses are currently doing very well out of poverty and homelessness.  To attempt to smear and impoverish one of the most marginalised groups in society with campaigns like this is bad enough.  To do it to further line the pockets of overpaid charity chief executives is beneath contempt.

This is far from the first initiative aimed at stopping the public helping homeless people directly, but it is one of the most of unpleasant.  Luckily it has been a dismal failure, with just £50 raised according to the justgiving website. The people of Leeds have shown they are better than this.  It’s time these organisations realise that if they continue to attack homeless people then they won’t see a fucking penny of our money.  Give a beggar a quid instead.  At least you know it won’t be spent on campaigns like this.

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Over 90,000 Children Now In Temporary Accommodation As The Homelessness Epidemic Gets Even Worse

homeless-march1There are now over 90,000 children living in temporary accommodation according to the latest official statistics – a rise of over 15% in just one year.

The number of these families living in B&Bs – which usually just means one room, often with shared facilities – has leapt by a shocking 35% compared to a year earlier.  990 of these families had been living in this kind of accommodation for over six weeks, over double the number from the same period last year.

Every measure of homelessness has risen according to the latest statistics, with 13,520 households accepted as homeless by Local Authorities between January and March 2015, a jump of 8% on a year earler.

The main reason for families becoming homeless was the loss of an assured tenancy with a private sector landlord.  Soaring rents, stagnant wages and shrinking benefits – combined with a barely regulated private rental sector where landlords can evict on a whim – is driving the homelessness epidemic as many people can simply no longer afford to pay their rent.

This week’s figures only represent a very small sample of the true number of homeless people in the UK.  Only those legally eligible for help from local authorites are included, which in practice means only those with children, significant disabilities or health problems and people over pensionable age.  Homelessness charities have warned that this measure only shows the tip of the iceberg of even these groups as recent changes to the law mean families fobbed off into insecure private rented accommodation by councils are no longer included in the figures.

A recent report found that rents have risen by 10% in the last year, and that’s across the UK, not just in London.  George Osborne has already pegged rises in Housing Benefits at just 1%.  The impacts of the Bedroom Tax and first Benefit Cap have still not been fully felt as local authorities have used Discretionary Housing Payments to top up Housing Benefits.  These payments will soon come to an end.  The number of houses built at a social rent, meaning they are genuinely affordable to low income families, fell to the lowest level in the history of council housing in 2013/14.

A perfect storm has already been created and we have not yet seen anything like the worst of it.  The full impact of Iain Duncan Smith’s bungled welfare reforms have not yet been fully felt according to managers of homelessness services in local councils when questioned by homelessness charities last year (PDF).

But even this will just be the beginning.  The government have already pledged a lower Benefit Cap, which will leave almost the entire private rented sector in the south of England unaffordable for out of work families.  Tens of thousands of people in social housing will also be affected, particularly larger families who will have nowhere they can afford to go.  Osbourne is also likely to scrap housing benefit completely for those under 21, whilst a mass sell off of housing association properties is also on the cards.  And that’s just what we know about.  Billions more is set to be cut from the social security budget, and however the Chancellor does that it will mean many people can no longer afford to stay in their home.

Disabled People Against Cuts have already called a protest outside next week’s budget.  Everyone who cares about having somewhere to live over the next few years should join them and say #balls2thebudget.  Please join, share and tweet the facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1455266081436327/

You can read the latest homelessness statistics at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/statutory-homelessness-in-england-january-to-march-2015

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Shameless: Charity Bosses To Gather In Luxury Hotel For £715 Homelessness Conference

£715 will pay for a room for a charity chief executive in a top hotel for just one night.  Please give generously.

Sponsor a room. Just £715 will pay for for a charity chief executive to stay in a top hotel for two nights. Please give generously. You fucking mug.

Charity Chief Executives and so-called housing experts are gearing up for this year’s homelessness industry conference which is due to be held at a four star hotel with ticket prices as high as £715!

Next month’s Under One Roof conference is organised by charity umbrella body Homeless Link and provides a chance for homelessness experts to talk about homeless people without any actual homeless people being present.  This year’s swanky bash is being held at the Hinckley Island Hotel in Leicestershire where according to Homeless Link  “Delegates staying overnight are also entitled to complimentary use of the leisure club facilities, which include a heated indoor swimming pool, fully equipped gym, sauna, spa, steam room and solarium.”

Were somebody who is homeless wishing to access this event they would be forced to pay the non-member rate of £320 just for one day, and they don’t even get to stay in the hotel for that.  For the entire two days, plus accommodation, then the bill rises to over £700 – around ten times  the weekly Jobseeker’s Allowance payment many homeless people survive on.  Homelessless charities who run hostels evict residents for running up smaller service charge arrears than that every day of the week.

When not swanning around by the pool, or enjoying the promised slap up meal, delegates to this year’s conference will attend workshops held by ‘industry experts’.  Experts like Jeremy ‘send ’em back’ Swain of charity Thamesreach who will lead a discussion on whether it is ‘counter-productive’ to carry on working with destitute migrants.

Other hot topics will include, predictably, fundraising, crowdsourcing, and “how to pool resources to enable you to bid for contracts that would otherwise be out of reach”.  Those four star hotel bills won’t pay themselves you know.

It will not be front line homelessness workers attending this event of course, but middle managers, ‘professionals’ and charity bosses – the kind of people who could afford to pay for their own fucking hotel.  Instead well meaning charity donors, homeless hostel residents and of course tax payers, will fund this lavish and drink-soaked skive.  And drink-soaked it will be, after the arduous day of workshops the organisers promise a drinks reception, followed by a conference dinner – with entertainment provided by a top magician (perhaps he can magic up some fucking housing) – and then another drinks reception.  These are the same charities that run nasty campaigns telling people not to give money to homeless beggars because they will only spend it on booze or drugs.  Give your spare change to a homelessness charity instead they say, so highly paid Chief Executives can spend it on fine wine, magicians  and posh hotels.

Apologies for the slow down in posts.  Things might remain a bit sporadic here until September when a shit storm is coming.

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We Deserve Queen’s Award For Industry Says Housing Boss Currently Evicting The Sweet’s Way Families

sweetsway1Housing activists fighting evictions are ‘ludicrous’ and ‘we shouldn’t worry too much about them’ say out of touch housing association bosses defending regeneration schemes which are forcing people out of their homes.

The astonishing comments form part of a feature on London’s growing housing movement which Inside Housing published on their website last week.  The largely positive piece highlighted the anger created by the desperate shortage of social housing in the capital and told the stories of the tenants, homeless people, squatters and frontline housing workers who are fighting back.

Unfortunately it also featured outbursts from whining housing association bosses who complain that social media means that they are now being held accountable for the things that they do.  It’s not fair they say, with the boss of  Notting Hill Housing Association, Kate Davies, even claiming they deserve a ‘pat on the back’ and the ‘Queen’s award for industry’ for all their tireless work decanting and evicting families from their homes.

Davies is in charge of the Sweet’s Way housing estate in Barnet where, as Inside Housing point out, 142 former military homes now mostly containing low income families are being replaced by a redevelopment in which just 59 new properties will be ‘affordable’.  And affordable means rents that could be as high as 80% of those in the private sector, meaning few can really afford them.  None of the new homes built will be available for ‘social rent’, the kind of low but still substantial rents that used to be normal in housing association and council properties.  The current residents who are set to lose their homes have launched a furious fight back but Davies implies she doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.  She must think we’re fucking idiots.

Simon Dow, boss of the Guinness Partnership, is equally unrepentent.  He concedes his organisation has some responsibility to explain to current tenants ‘where they fit into’ regeneration plans – yet the reality, and problem, is that many don’t fit into these plans at all, such as the Guiness tenants on the Loughborough Estate in Brixton who are facing imminent eviction.  But Dow says he is ‘less interested’ in the views of those not from the estate, meaning the housing campaigners who have worked alongside those facing the loss of their homes to try and stall and prevent evictions.  It is this kind of social solidarity that concerns Dow who concludes that if this militancy amongst tenants spreads throughout the sector then they might have to worry about whether what they are doing is a good idea.

And one of the things they are doing is paying themselves huge sums of money.  In 2012/13 Simon Dow was paid over a quarter of a million pounds.  You read that right – a quarter of a fucking million pounds.  Enough to buy a new home every year.  Kate Davies, of the Notting Hill Housing Association was paid just short of £200,000.  Is it any wonder that they are so out of touch and aloof from the people they are paid with both tax payer’s and tenant’s money to house?

If Davies and Dow actually lived on the estates they are currently demolishing then they might have some understanding of the utter devastation that eviction, homelessness or forced relocation can cause to the lives of already struggling families.  They might realise that one fucking eviction is one too many, and that the chronic lack of social housing means the situation is now at breaking point.  Instead they whinge about government funding cuts whilst still drawing huge wages and complain about tenants being too uppity and not understanding the challenges poor housing bosses face.  Their only glimmer of dissent has been to team up with the other villains in this story – property developers – to join the Homes for Britain campaign, a shoddy front aiming to use the housing crisis as an excuse to build more houses for rich people.

If you find yourself calling riot police on housing campaigners, or using bailiffs to violently evict families from their homes, then you are on the wrong fucking side.  A five year could could tell you that.  The kids currently living in shitty temporary accommodation miles from friends and families know that.  There is no room for argument.  If housing association bosses really don’t like what the government is doing then good, it’s time they did something about it.  Whether that means getting out on the streets, or not co-operating, or even just paying themselves a bit less and paying a few people’s bedroom tax instead, is for them to decide.  Or perhaps they could get out of the way altogether, and let tenants, not highly paid bureacrats, manage the homes and communities they live in.

Visit the Radical Housing Network’s event calendar for details of upcoming protests, action and meetings and keep July 11th free for when Class War’s anti-gentrification Fuck Parade takes to the streets of Camden.

Class War will also be out on the streets tomorrow (Wednesday 27th May) on the state opening of Parliament.  Meet at 11am prompt in Parliament Square.  Later in the day the National Coalition against Fees and Cuts have called a march from 5pm – assemble in Trafalgar Square.

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And The Minister For Housing Is … A Fucking Landlord

landlord-jailedThe interests of tenants and landlords are in direct opposition.  Tenants need secure homes with low rents and which are well maintained.  Landlords however want to charge the highest possible rent for the least possible work and be able to throw a tenant out of their home the second they get a better offer.

This means that you cannot claim to support both tenant’s rights and landlord’s profits.  You have to pick a side.  And we know which side the new Housing Minister Brandon Lewis is on because the register of MP’s interests tells us.  He’s a fucking landlord.

Lewis was first appointed as Minister of Housing in June 2014, replacing parliament’s nastiest, slimiest MP Kris Hopkins.  He was re-appointed by David Cameron last week where he wil continue his work ensuring the UK has one of the most expensive and least regulated private rental sectors in the world.

One of his first moves has been to introduce legislation banning local authorities from introducing licencing schemes for landlords – such as the one recently developed by Liverpool Council.  In future any council which wants to introduce a scheme that affects more than 20% of privately rented homes will be forced to go crawling to central government for permission.

It is astonishing that you need a licence to drive a mini-cab, open a pub or work as a security guard, yet any old crook can set themselves up as a landlord.  The only entry requirement is money.  These are bastards who have a key to our homes, and whose actions, or lack of action can devastate our health and even place our lives at risk.  Is it any wonder that landlord abuse, from sexual harassment, to violence, to illegal eviction to simple neglect, is rampant in the UK?

According to Housing Minister Brandon Lewis only a small minority of landlords are ‘rogue operators’.  Yet almost anyone who has rented privately will have tales to tell of bullying, theft, discrimination, harassment and often criminal negligence.  Even landlords who remain within the law can hike rents, evict without reason or charge eye-watering fees and deposits which exclude many people from any housing at all.   The private rental sector is broken beyond repair and Lewis has no plans to change that.  In fact he intends to continue making money from it.

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Brixton Rises Up As Rage Against The Rich Explodes Across The Capital

reclaim-brixton1On the Sunday Politics show yesterday Labour’s Tessa Jowell admitted that her party’s proposed three year tenancies are voluntary.  Tenants will be able to ‘negotiate’ a three year contract but landlords will be under no obligation to provide one.

What a fucking joke, and one that shows the Labour Party are every bit as out of touch as the chinless toffs they pretend to oppose.  According to one property firm there are currently 5 tenants chasing each private rental property on the market across the UK and in London that jumps to 8 people desperately competing for every home.  If Jowell thinks that tenants have any bargaining power at all when the odds are so heavily stacked against them then she is living in a dream world – or at least a world where she doesn’t ever have to worry about having no home.

When one of our most basic human needs, like a securing a place to live, is an impossibility for millions of people then society has broken down.  Every measure of homelessness is rising whilst those in both the private and social rented sector are facing eye-watering rent increases.  Private sector tenants can be evicted on a whim by landlords with just two month’s notice.  There will be no homes at all for the millions of children growing up in London and other larger cities where housing demand is at its greatest.

It is in this context that upmarket estate agents Foxtons getting their windows stoved in at Saturday’s Reclaim Brixton protest should be viewed.  This was not an act of mindless violence as some sections of the media have claimed.  Nobody got hurt.  Foxtons was closed for the day in case anybody was worrying about estate agents cowering behind their desks as their office was ransacked – as if anyone would worry about that.  This was a fucking intervention.  Few things are more symbolic of a housing market designed for profit, not people, than the leeches at Foxtons.

Thousands of people were out onto the streets in Brixton on Saturday for one of London’s biggest ever anti-gentrification protests.  At one point hundreds of people mobbed the town hall with many fighting past police lines to gain entrance to the building.  Traffic was brought to a standstill as people danced in the streets to a soundsystem taking over the road for several hours.  A march through Brixton led by London Black Revs was received with cheers and applause as it passed the railway arches where long standing local businesses have just been told they face closure.  Brixton Village, once a well loved part of Brixton Market and now an ethnically cleansed yuppy dominated enclave of over-priced bars and restaurants, was briefly occupied.  Even the police station was attacked.  And the Jobcentre got their window broken.

The mood was angry and defiant, but positive.  Reclaim Brixton followed the hugely successful March for the Homeless just two weeks ago and the mass action at the vile Property Developer’s awards last week.  At every housing protest the number of people attending is growing.  London has had enough.

One of the reasons that London’s housing market has turned into a licence to print money for the global super rich is that the city has what investors judge to be a favourable political climate towards the very wealthy.  Clowns like Boris have welcomed the influx of luxury developments with open arms.  London’s paper, the Evening Standard fawns over the rich, running pieces on divorce settlements amongst Chelsea millionaires or banker’s boardroom squabbles as if they were real proper news.  Two-bit confidence tricksters peddling get rich quick schemes like Grant Shapps are hailed as wealth creators by their fellow politicians.  And Labour’s bogus housing policies show that should they be elected then it will still be business as usual for the corporate vandals ransacking the capital.

But the mood is changing.  People are fucking sick of the rich and they are starting to show it.  What happened in Brixton – and is happening on estates across London where tenants are taking direct action to protect their homes – is just the beginning.  When people have little left to lose they will fight fucking hard.  Be ready, and be out on the streets, because political change can happen in a heartbeat.

Class War are holding a Fuck Parade on mayday in protest at the Poor Doors in the luxury tower block at 1 Commercial Street London E1.  Please spread the word and join/share the facebook page.

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This Is Fucking Vandalism, London’s History And Culture Are Being Destroyed In The Name Of Greed

black-capsAround 150 people joined a protest outside The Black Cap public house in Camden yesterday after it closed suddenly and without warning last week.  The long running LGBT venue opened in the 1960s, surviving throughout the days when gay people faced prosecution.  Now it is falling victim to rampant gentrification that respects neither culture or history and seeks only to make as much money as possible for greedy property developers.

Speaking at the protest drag artist Titti La Camp, a former performer at the pub, said 10 gay venues had closed in central London since the current Tory government weren’t elected.  In an all too familiar story, those trying to save The Black Cap believe it is likely to be converted into yet more luxury flats that nobody local can afford.

camden-marketsA few hundred yards away a large part of Camden Market is currently a building site, awaiting being converted into a soulless offices along with 170 new homes of which only 17 will be affordable.  The company behind the development is owned by billionaire Teddy Sagi, the man behind the explosion of fixed-odds betting terminals in bookies which have been called the crack cocaine of the gambling world.  Sagi’s company also owns Stables Market in Camden and several other local sites which are earmarked for development.

hardwaresDown the road in Berwick Street, Soho, a new development has led to the end of many long running local businesses like That’s Andy’s hardware shop which had existed for 20 years.  Many more shops lie empty after being forced to close.shop-signs

walkers-court-sohoThis is Walker’s Court at the end of Berwick Street.  This narrow passageway  was often photographed as an iconic example of Soho’s historic association with sex work.  Now it is boarded up and awaiting development by Soho Estates, the company founded by the late Paul Raymond who made millions out of Soho’s sex trade.  His grand-daughter, one of the UK’s richest women who sits on the board of Soho Estates, is now set to make millions out of the destruction of Soho’s sex work industry.madame-jojos-closedJust around the corner from Walker’s Court the famous Madame Jojo’s cabaret and burlesque venue was closed down at the end of last year.  The club was stripped of its licence after an alleged violent incident took place involving the club’s bouncers.  Madame Jojo’s had replaced both the management and security team after the incident but this was not enough to satisfy Westminster Council.  Those who used and loved the venue believe the real reason it was closed was the Council’s desire to gentrify the area.denmark-streetLess than 10 minutes walk away lies Denmark Street, better known as Tin Pan Alley, once the heart of the UK’s music industry and still a living, breathing community of musicians. Now it is being redeveloped into a “super-flexible, digitally-enabled streetscape” with posh flats, hotels, gigantic advertising boards, a ‘sky bar’ and a new piazza.  The developers call it a run down corner of London.  They should come to fucking Catford.  Actually they shouldn’t, cunts like them are already coming to Catford.  Some of the music shops have moved out of Denmark Street already.sax-shop-closedbailiffs-12barThese signs appear on the empty properties along Denmark Street after Bohemians 4 Soho squatted the 12 Bar Club in a last ditch effort to save the famous music venue from closure.  An army of bailiffs and security guards are now stationed in Central London protecting the property of the rich from the people who live here.st-martins-loftsThis is what is replacing these much loved venues and famous landmarks.  These loft apartments are on the former site of St Martin’s Art school, now re-located to King’s Cross.  A two bedroom flat in this building will cost you £4.5 million.  Of course it’s not just posh flats that are replacing our homes and community venues.new-mcdonalds-sohoLondon does not have a housing problem it has a rich people problem.  The decimation of Soho and Camden is just one side of it.  The other is the tragic evictions taking place everywhere from Barnet to Brixton and the record numbers of people sleeping on London’s streets.

Nobody wants this vandalism except for the grasping property developers, greedy landlords and global super rich who are turning every last brick in the city into an investment opportunity. They could not give a fuck about the people who live here – the people who built London and do the real work that makes it function.  This is not a natural development of the city due to changing fashions and demographics.  It is certainly not regeneration.  It is a robbery.  A city being reconstructed as Disneyland, where no real people can afford to live.  It will be the death of London in the end.  And the rich won’t care, they will be busy destroying somewhere else by then.

But there are fucking loads more of us than them.  Struggles over housing and community venues are bursting into life everywhere.  London has a long tradition of subversion, disobedience, rebellion and riots.  The London mob must rise again.  All of us, together, against the fucking rich.

The fight to save the Black Cap is not over, visit their facebook page.

Join the mass action against property developers at the vile Property Awards being held at the Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane this Tuesday 21st April, full details on facebook.

Reclaim Brixton is taking place on Saturday 25th April, for a run down of what’s taking place visit: http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/2015/04/reclaim-brixton-event-on-sat-25th-april-times-places-and-meet-up-points/

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