Save our homes - stop the social cleansing
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Across the capital, local people are being displaced in the name of "regeneration". Despite the myths perpetuated by developers, the reality of regeneration is the social cleansing of inner city areas: the landscape and culture is transformed in an appeal to the wealthy. This is at the expense of locals; the services and shops that poorer people rely on are demolished and the replacements are unaffordable. If the prices of living in the area do not drive locals out, it is the development of their homes and the consequent rehousing that drives them miles or towns away from their homes and communities. While developers may build the occasional recreation or leisure facility, they do so at the cost of tearing down the local community.
The effort for social "affordable" housing as part of this movement is a complete fabrication. Affordable rent is now set at 80% of the local market rate - this is simply unaffordable to low income households. In Westminster, council tenants in a 3 bedroom home would need an annual income of £109000 for this rent level to be considered “affordable”. Even the Tory Westminster council has recognised the gross Orwellian nature of this affordable rent policy.
On the 14th June 2017, the greed behind gentrification, the Government and the local council - so powerful as to compromise the safety and security of council home residents - was exposed in the Grenfell Tower fire. The 71 lives lost to the fire was the tragic result of the prioritising of profit over people; criminal decisions, such as investing in cheap flammable cladding to suit the aesthetics of the area while neglecting to install much needed fire safety equipment, must be held to account. Causing further outrage, only 10 of the 203 households that survived the Grenfell Tower Fire have been permanently rehoused; the remaining 193 live in constant fear of the unknown without a place of security to call home.
Over the past two years, two bills have been proposed that would require landlords to ensure their homes are fit for human habitation. In both instances, they were rejected - many opposing MPs being landlords themselves. Not only does the rejection of these bills disparage the suffering of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, but also shamelessly violates our human right to housing. No one should be deprived of a safe, secure, habitable and affordable home or of their freedom from forced eviction but more and more people across the UK face this grim reality each day. I have experienced this reality firsthand: my family has been compelled to move out of our council flat and our rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood of Shoreditch, the community in which I was born and raised, due to the impending threat of displacement.
I’ve named a handful of concerns that breach the human right to housing but the list of abuses goes on - for instance, around 1100 people will sleep rough on the streets of London tonight while 20000 homes across the city are left vacant by overseas investors. As the crisis grows in scale and strength, it is time to unite in our fight for social justice and force the Government to confront their dereliction of duty to protect the housing rights of the working class.
We demand an end to social cleansing.
We demand affordable housing for all.
We demand justice for the victims of the administration's neglect.
Stand with us as we urge the Government to amend their housing policy in order to secure, protect and uphold our right to decent housing.
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