Category Archives: Housing and Homelessness

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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Nick Clegg Wants Even More Debt For The Young, Why Is This Dick Still Talking?

NickClegg-looking-like-a-dickWhen Nick Clegg was negotiating with the two main parties after the hung election he could, if he had really cared, insisted on scrapping tuition fees before entering a coalition agreement.  At the very least he could have argued for fees to be reduced, or even frozen over the course of the Parliament.

But instead he threw away the educational chances of a generation in favour of a stupid referendum on what wasn’t even Proportional Representation when it came to the vote.  And he lost.  Because he is a dick.  Remember that if you have recently graduated with a huge debt.  Every time you make a payment remember you are in debt because Nick Clegg is a dick.

Now he wants young people sucked even further into debt by luring them into taking out huge loans to pay for a deposit on a tenancy agreement.  Deposits that will be far higher than they are now because Clegg wants to set the loans at £1,500 outside London.  According to The Guardian the average deposit is £1,200.  So overnight the standard deposit will shoot up by £300 quid which will have to be repaid over the next couple of years.  So young people won’t be able to afford their rent and will stay at home and not get on the “rented property ladder”, which is Clegg’s ludicrous name for the fucked housing market.  And of course these loans will only be available to young people who have a job, so those most in need of help with housing, with no means to pay up front, will stay homeless.

Just like the other main parties Clegg has no plans to build more housing at social rents people can actually afford.  Or any concrete plans to reverse the savage housing benefit cuts he voted for which are leading to soaring homelessness.  But they will plant a tree for every child born in the UK.  Perhaps that’s where they expect them to live.  What a bunch of dicks.

Whatever you decide to do at the election remember one thing.  If you vote Liberal Democrat you are voting for a dick.  It doesn’t matter how much you might like your Lib Dem candidate, they are a dick.  If there can only be one small sliver of comfort gleaned from the last five years of misery it will be the Liberal Democrat party being consigned to the dustbin of history.  Don’t spoil that for everyone.  Don’t be a dick.  Don’t vote Lib Dem.

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March For The Homeless A Huge Success: This Is Exactly What The Capital Needs

DSC00107Hundreds of people brought traffic chaos to Central London last night as the streets were occupied for the capital’s largest ever March for the Homeless.

Around 500  homeless and ex-homeless people, squatters, tenants and housing campaigners gathered opposite Downing Street where a street kitchen was serving free food.  Soon the protest spilled out into Whitehall which was blockaded with one banner reading ‘No More Deaths On Our Streets’.  With traffic backing up police began warning people to leave the road or face arrest only for a cycle rickshaw carrying a full band to turn up and the lively crowd began heading down the road towards Parliament Square.

The march stopped briefly at David Cameron’s backdoor, the often forgotten other end of Downing Street next to St James Park, before making its way to Buckingham Palace where police were forced to hurriedly make a line in front of the gates to prevent the Palace being stormed.  Sort of.  Then it was onto the Pall Mall squat which had been occupied in protest at London’s housing crisis and was conveniently evicted on the morning of the march.  A line of bailiffs were guarding the building and as the crowd approached one of them unexpectedly lashed out at a protester punching him in the face before being restrained by his colleagues and bundled inside.  This took place in full view of several police officers who chose to do precisely fuck all about an unprovoked and vicious assault.  Is it any wonder people call them the filth?

After a brief sit down protest at Piccadilly, the march turned into Soho where it was met with applause by many of the people drinking outside the busy cafes and bars.  The once thriving Soho gay scene is being devastated as venue after venue closes to make way for chain stores and posh flats.  There is barely an inch left of London that is not being destroyed as property developers seek to turn our homes and communities into soulless investment opportunities for the global super rich.

Finally the march stopped outside a new plush squat recently occupied by the same group who were just kicked out of Pall Mall.  With music pouring from the windows protesters mingled with passers-by many of whom were supportive of the squatters.

This march was exactly what needs to happen in a city where an entire generation of children are growing up who will not be able to afford to live here when they are older.  A housing movement that thinks creatively, takes no shit, does not ask permission and is fun to be a part of can only grow as ever more people see their homes come under threat.

The only down point to the event was the late arrest of long standing housing activist Phoenix, who was reportedly nicked for little more than not going inside the building when the coppers told him to.  This follows the recent arrest of Jasmine from the E15 campaign and the string of vindictive arrests at the Poor Doors protests.  This is starting to look like a deliberate strategy of trying to silence the anger in the capital over lack of housing by targeting the people that police have decided are ring-leaders.

Phoenix was unbowed, saying after his release: “Homes for all, keep squatting and occupy everywhere.  Viva the resistance … one day we will all have a home”.

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Labour And The Tories, Not Just Fucking Wankers But Fucking Idiots Too

idiots

Only a bunch of spivs and two-bit confidence tricksters like the current Tory front bench could have come up with a reckless get rich quick policy like extending right-to-buy to housing associaion properties.

Handing a small number of tenants a huge tax-payer funded give away whilst decimating the supply of desperately needed genuinely affordable housing is quite possibly the single most stupid fucking thing that any politicans could do in the midst of an escalating housing crisis.  And there is some stiff competition. Labour’s policies to build more homes no-one can afford or introduce regional benefit caps so no-one can pay their rent are equally fucking stupid.

A further cap on housing benefits will only lead to yet more homelessness and both parties want it.  The truth about the benefit cap that has already been introduced is that many people’s benefits haven’t been capped – their housing costs are simply being paid via the council and Discretionary Housing Payments.  It will only be after the election – whoever wins – that we will see the devastating impact of families with children socially cleansed from more affluent cities and forced into areas already scarred by poverty and unemployment.

On workfare both parties are proposing policies which are unworkable in practice – with Labour taking the lead in attacking the young who will lose benefits completely unless they undertake forced ‘training’ (stop laughing they mean workfare).  The Tories have said this will not happen until someone has been on benefits for six months, when they will then be bullied into workfare, or a shoddy unpaid Traineeship.  But they will stop their Housing Benefit.  Probably, in some cases.  Labour have not even bothered to say whether scrapping benefits for those under 21 means they will stop their Housing Benefit as well.

Where all these workfare placements will come from nobody knows.  Already there is a desperate shortage as growing numbers of charities reject forced unpaid work completely.  The amount of unpaid work experience on Traineeships was recently reduced after even businesses said it was unfair to make young people work too long without a wage. The only people who actually want workfare are fucking idiots like Cameron and Miliband who are both obesessed with the idea.  It’s hardly surprising, neither of them has ever done a real day’s work in their lives.  They want us to work for free whilst they do fuck all and earn a fortune.

Even Labour’s so-called Compulsory Jobs Guarantee isn’t a proper job.  Instead it will include ten hours a week unpaid workfare with the rest of the time on a tax-payer funded minimum wage. It’s just a huge subsidy so employers can get free workers, and looks a lot like Nick Cleggs disastrous subsidised employment scheme that was recently scrapped for being both shit and probably illegal.

It is hardly surprising that a Hamspstead clown like Miliband and a Chipping Norton toff like Cameron have policies so similar you could barely fit a fag paper between them.  They have far more in common with each other’s pampered lives than they do with most normal people.  Neither of them would last five minutes in a debate about politics in their local Wetherspoon. And when Cameron was given a well deserved kicking round the pub car park, Miliband would be chucking up in the bogs after one too many bacon sandwiches.

There are other, better, ways of being politically active then voting for some fucking idiot who hates you once every five years.  Across the UK people will be taking direct political action in the run up to the election.  Tomorrow (15th April) sees a March for the Homeless taking place in cities throughout the England and Scotland whilst a Day of Action for Fast Food Worker’s Rights will see protests outside McDonalds.  Later in the month Disabled People Against Cuts will be visiting the constituencies of both Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVey.  Boycott Workfare are holding a week of action against unpaid work and sanctions from the 25th April, the same day that an anti-gentrification protest will take place in Brixton.  And on May 1st Class War will be holding a fuck parade, complete with 12 volt soundsystems outside the notorious poor doors at 1 Commercial Street, London E1.

Change will not come from the ballot box, that is the point of them.  Whichever twat you vote for, if you can be bothered to vote at all, get out on the streets and let’s make sure the fucking lot of them know we don’t need or want their shit anymore.

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Take Action Against Soaring Homelessness: Support The March For The Homeless On April 15th

march-for-homelessSupport the March for the Homeless.  April 15 2015, Whitehall SW1, 6pm.

On last Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show Iain Duncan Smith said that homelessness had not risen since he implemented savage Housing Benefit cuts like the Bedroom Tax and Benefit Cap.  Even for a politician this was a breath-taking lie.

Every possible measure of homelessness has risen since the current Government weren’t elected.  The number of homeless families has soared by 27% and charities say the problem is far greater than even this, attacking the figures as no longer reliable.  The number of people sleeping on the streets has leapt by 50% and is now at the highest ever recorded level.  It is shocking that a Secretary of State can so openly attempt to deceive the public and astonishing that a highly experienced poltical interviewer like Marrs would let him get away with it.

According to a recent report produced by charities working on the front line, Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are driving the rise in homelessness.  Perhaps of most concern is that just one in ten  local authority homelessness managers who were surveyed for the report believed that the impacts of benefits cuts had largely ‘run their course’.  Most believed things are set to get worse over the next two years.  Soaring rents, shrinking benefits and the threat of further cuts to come could yet create a homelessness crisis on a scale rarely if ever seen before in the UK.

On Wednesday April 15th a March for the Homeless will take place in Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada and the USA.  In London a mass rally will be held in Whitehall from 6pm with music, speakers, a free shop, street kitchen  and more.  Please help spread the word, for more info visit: http://streetskitchen.co.uk/?p=2072

For news of what’s happening in other cities join the facebook page or visit their website.  Campaigners are using the hashtags #NoMoreDeathsOnOurStreets and #March4Homeless

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Government Statistics No Longer Reliable Say Charities As Homelessness Epidemic Gets Even Worse

cause-of-homelessness

How private sector evictions are driving homelessness. AST stands for Assured Shorthold Tenancy. Graph from Crisis.

Figures showing that statutory homelessness has soared in England by 27% since this government weren’t elected do not even scratch the surface of the desperate homelessness epidemic.

53,250 families were accepted as homeless in 2014, up from 41,780 five years earlier and the latest official homelessness statistics uncover some stark facts about those without a home.  There are now twice the number of families living in B&Bs than in 2010 and the number who have been there over six weeks has leapt by an appalling 500%.  This is a practice which had almost died out, but as demand for temporary housing has risen over the the last five years there are no longer enough hostels, refuges and other forms of emergency accommodation for the growing numbers of homeless families.

These statistics come after last month’s rough sleeping estimate which showed that there are now more people sleeping on the streets than since official records began.  But neither of these sets of government approved figures come close to telling us the true extent of the homelessness crisis.

In February the Homelessness Monitor report was relased.  This is an annual study commissed by charities which looks at the impact of government policies on homelessness.  It makes for horrifying reading.

Changes introduced in the way homelessness is managed by local authorities mean that many councils are now using ‘informal’ measures to help homeless families which are not included in official statistics.  According to homelessness charities this means that “the bottom line is that we can no longer rely on these figures to show national trends”.

The report points out that “there were some 280,000 ‘local authority homelessness case actions’ in 2013/14, 9% up on the previous year”.  In other words many cases of homelessness were swept under the carpet with families often fobbed off into precarious private sector accommodation.  And of course as word gets round that all the council will do is send you off to your local slum landlord if you approach them for housing assistance then less people are likely to ask for help.

The majority of homeless people are not included in any figures, anywhere.  Local authorities are only duty bound to help people judged to be what is known as in ‘priority need’.  That means people with children, those over pensionable age, or people with serious health conditions or disabilities.  If you are single, under 65 and not seriously ill then you will be left to fend for yourself.  Should you end up on the streets then you may eventually get picked up by a charity outreach worker and offered a place in a nightshelter or hostel.  But turn up at the council saying you have nowhere to go that night and most will do little more than shrug their shoulders.

There are around 40,000 single people in Engalnd who are living in hostels or nightshelters –  sometimes in dormitory style accommodation.  They are not recorded in any formal homelessness statistics.  Nobody knows how many people are living in squats, vehicles, campsites or in unregistered providers of temporary housing like grotty B&Bs and backpacker hostels.  Then there is the largest group of homeless people by far, the hidden homeless sleeping on a friend’s sofa or in over-crowded family accommodation.  The Homelessness Monitor says that an astonishing 2.23 million households contain what they call ‘concealed’ single people in addition to a hidden 265,000 couples or lone parents.

Whilst the true scale of homelessness in England can only be guessed at there is one thing that is certain.  Every form of homelessness that is formally recorded is rising sharply, from the (widely believed to be fixed) count of how many people are on the street to the number of homeless families approaching councils for help.  Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are directly responsible according to homelessness charities, with benefit sanctions, the bedroom tax and the benefit cap identified as doing the most damage.

David Cameron has pledged to introduce a further benefit cap within weeks of being re-elected whilst both parties appear to favour regional benefit caps.  The truth is that benefits have always been capped, currently at £72.40 a week for single unemployed people. What Cameron really wants are caps on Housing Benefit, the government subsidy paid out to landlords which swallows up the largest part of the UK’s benefit’s bill.  The result will be more evictions as people are unable to  pay their rent whilst more landlords will decide, possibly illegally, not to accept any tenants on benefits at all.  As the graph above shows, it is private sector evictions that are driving rising homelessness.

Both parties are committed to so-called affordable rents which barely anyone can afford.  In the capital affordable rents on even a modest property can cost more than the total someone would receive working full time on the London Living Wage.  Affordable housing means housing for middle class people not the working class.  Real council house provision at social rents is being quietly eradicated.  Labour have not said they will reverse Right To Buy policies.  The Tories say they will extend the great council house sell off to housing association properties.

It is as tragic as it is shocking that so many people should be without a home in one of the richest countries in the world.  That not one politician of any main party takes this seriously is the real scandal however.  You will barely hear a word about homelessness in the run up to the election.  MPs are far more interested in lining the pockets of landlords and property developers than helping homeless people.  Many of them are landlords themselves.  Almost all have lived such pampered lives that the only time they are likely to set foot in a homelessness hostel or housing office is to have their fucking photo taken standing next to some poor people.  They think homeless people are the people you step over when you come out of the opera.  

That is why soaring homelessness, which destroys lives, does not even register with the politicians paid and elected to represent us.  It will never happen to them so they couldn’t give a fuck.

Support the March for the Homeless on April 15th in London, Glasgow, Hull, Newcastle, Manchester, Huddersfield, Norwich, throughout Ireland and across the world.

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Council House Building At Record Low In Midst Of Housing Crisis

LA-completions

It doesn’t have to be like this. Graph from Shelter showing the collapse of council housing in the UK.

The number of council houses made available for social rent in England fell to its lowest figure yet in 2013/14 and was outstripped by the number sold off through the Right To Buy scheme.

Just 10,920 new homes with genuinely affordable rents were created during the last year, whilst 11,261 were purchased through Right To Buy according to figures from the DCLG.  This is the first time more houses were sold through the scheme than were built since 2005/06.  It is the lowest ever recorded number of new council houses and has fallen from 38,950 in 2010/11.

In addition 19,740 laughably called affordable homes were created, with rents usually set at 80% of the local private sector market – meaning they could run to hundreds of pounds a week in some parts of the UK.  These homes do often not offer lifetime tenancies, but instead are fixed term and come with a range of conditions attached, including workfare in some cases.  They are not social housing in the way most people understand it, and they are absolutely not what is needed in the midst of a record homelessness epidemic.

Even if you add all the new homes on ‘affordable’ rents and the small number created for ‘social rent’ then only just over 30,000 new homes were made available in 2013/14 – a fall of around 25% since 2010/11 and the second lowest figure in six years.

Elsewhere the news is equally bleak.  In the most recent quarter the number of new houses being built by Housing Associations fell by 27%, and is down by almost two thirds from a year ago.  Housebuilding overall fell by 10% from the previous quarter and is down 9% since this time last year.

Everybody knows that what is needed to solve the housing crisis is more council houses.  Everyone knows that Right To Buy has been a disaster.  Neither of the main parties plans to do anything about either, and Labour’s record on building socially rented homes was equally atrocious if not worse.  The only people who benefit from the current shambles are property developers and landlords.  And  that’s who both the political parties are writing their housing policies for.  The only thing more broken than the UK’s fucked housing market is the rotten and corrupt so-called democracy at Westminster.

Support the March for the Homeless on April 15th in London, Glasgow, Hull, Newcastle, Manchester, Huddersfield, Norwich, throughout Ireland and across the world.

The figure on social and affordable house-building can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-affordable-housing-supply

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