A mass demonstration last Saturday pushed the London housing crisis further up the political agenda.
Council tenants fighting demolition joined trade unionists and young people struggling to find homes in two marches that converged on City Hall.
Some 5,000 people took part according to organisers Defend Council Housing (DCH) and the South London People’s Assembly.
The Focus E15 mothers, who led a series of high profile actions since being threatened with eviction two years ago, led one march from Shoreditch in east London.
Protester Sue told Socialist Worker, “Too many people’s lives are being disrupted.
“If things don’t change there’ll be a lot more protests like this, and on a much bigger scale.”
Poppy from Southwark was on the second march from Elephant and Castle in south London.
She told Socialist Worker, “We’re going to end up with a capital city emptied of people because all the homes have gone to the super-rich.”
Protesters assembled in the shadow of luxury private housing development Strata Tower.
They marched past the rubble of the Heygate Estate where 1,100 council homes have been demolished.
They went on past the Aylesbury Estate which is already being “decanted” of residents to prepare for demolition.
One group went to occupy a trio of empty flats there at the end of the demo.
Student and squatter Patrick told Socialist Worker, “The situation with housing is ridiculous, which a lot of people can identify with. And there’s strength in numbers—we saw that on the demonstration.”
Residents have come forward to welcome the protesters. They say the estate is being run down to get rid of them.
Agnes has lived there for more than 25 years. She told Socialist Worker, “I support the occupation—why should I listen to Southwark Council when they are trying to take away my home?
“I pay a heating charge, but the place is freezing. I don’t know why they can’t refurbish it rather than knocking it down.”
Tenants and leaseholders are meeting with occupiers this Saturday. Southwark DCH supports the action.
Tanya Murat told Socialist Worker, “We wanted the March for Homes to give confidence to everyone fighting to defend council housing, and it’s already achieved that.
“The occupation at the Aylesbury estate is one example. Another is the way estate campaigns such as West Hendon or Cressingham Gardens are getting more exposure.
“Council housing was portrayed as a problem to be solved—now people are recognising it’s the solution.”
Campaigners plan a Love Council Housing day on 14 February, and a week of protests in the run-up to the mayor’s budget on 23 February.
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