Socialist Worker

Join the March for Homes to fight London's housing crisis

by Eileen Short
Issue No. 2437

There is growing and acute housing pressure in London. It’s particularly harsh for young people and people hit by benefit cuts.

The March for Homes on 31 January involves a number of campaigning groups, all of which are in contact with people at the sharp end of the crisis.

There is increasing organisation among private renters.

The housing crisis is about what is being built, who owns it, and who can afford it. 

The problem is that luxury housing is being built which is unaffordable for ordinary people. One property developer in Greenwich, south east London, even bragged about a development that had “no social housing” this month.

There is speculative development and land-hoarding going on, often of public land that could be used to build council homes we need.

Tory MPs are making a packet from the crisis. 

Ian Gow, a minister in Margaret Thatcher’s governments, brought in the right to buy for council housing.

His son Stephen now owns at least 40 former council flats in Westminster alone.

Meanwhile benefit cuts are adding to the extreme pressure.

More and more people are privately renting because it’s harder to get a council or housing association place.

Security

For private renters the situation is dire, with no security, soaring rents and for many, very poor repairs and maintenance. Private landlords are almost completely unregulated.

Developers are now sniffing round estates, and councils and politicians are shamefully opening the door to them. The Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle symbolises this.

Over 1,000 council homes have been demolished —the new Elephant Village development will include only 76 really-affordable homes for rent.

We know of 50 estates across the capital where redevelopment is threatening council and housing association homes.

There will be many more.

We need to link up with the thousands of people who are affected by this and all those struggling for a stable home, with everyone who wants to fight.

Our protest has clear demands. We want control of rents—not just a cap—we want public control and proper regulation. 

We want an end to the bedroom tax and welfare caps.

We want to stop the demolition of council homes—and to build more.

And we want an end to the scapegoating of migrants for the housing crisis.

Everybody should have the right to a secure and affordable home. We need to put pressure on the government—this is just the start.

Eileen Short is chair of Defend Council Housing, which is a co-organiser of the March for Homes. Join the March for Homes on Saturday 31 January. Go to marchforhomes.org

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