Below press release has gone out to media ahead of Monday's protest.
Londoners call protest to Block Boris and demand budget to tackle housing crisis--
- Housing campaigners say we need a budget for London
- Block Boris protest at City Hall 23 Feb, 9am
- Protest follows London-wide week of action, eviction resistance and estate occupations
Londoners have called a protest on Feb 23 to Block the Mayor’s budget as it goes to vote at City Hall. Housing campaigners and tenants groups will join a protest that will feature music and visual installations – to illustrate that Boris’ budget is for the rich only, and not about creating homes for ordinary Londoners.
The protest is the culmination of a city wide week of action called by the Radical Housing Network, bringing together campaigners, social housing tenants and private renters to fight for housing justice. Events have included a ‘Love Council Housing’ day of films, direct actions and debates, as well as an occupation of flats in the Guinness Estate in Brixton to protest tenant evictions – where yesterday residents claimed victory following the Guinness Trust’s decision to delay the eviction of an assured shorthold tenant (AST) on the estate.
Guinness residents are among those joining the protest to ‘Block the Budget’ on Feb 23, which includes community-based housing campaigns Focus E15, New Era and Our West Hendon. Also attending the protest are tenants and participants in a political occupation of the Aylesbury estate in South London.
City Hall votes on the budget next Monday, but with no new money set aside for social housing, ‘Boris’s budget’ means more sell-offs of council housing and vast swathes of public land, leading to further rent-hikes and an acceleration of the housing crisis that grows more acute daily.
Campaigners say Boris won’t meet his target of 100,000 ‘affordable’ homes by the end of 2016 - and at 80% of market rents these homes are not affordable for most Londoners. The Shared Ownership scheme is only accessible to the best-off and ‘Home Zones’ and the London Housing Bank are subsidies for private developers. Meanwhile, the Mayor has removed the ability of local authorities to apply rent controls on new developments.
Last week, the RHN submitted a Freedom of Information request to find out about developments on land sold by the Greater London Authority, where the development includes residential units.
Campaigners at the #BlocktheBudget protest are calling Boris to set a budget for London:
- Increase quota of affordable housing on new developments and set truly affordable rent
- Start work for rent controls in London’s private rental sector
- Restrict buy to let and act against unfair evictions
- Stop demolition and privatisation of council housing and build more social housing
A spokesperson for the Radical Housing Network said: “Boris talks the talk on housing but rather than acting to stop it, our Mayor is fast-tracking social cleansing. Londoners are in desperate need of secure, genuinely affordable housing yet Boris Johnson, the most powerful politician in London with a housing budget close to two billion pounds at his fingertips, is acting and speaking on behalf of rich developers.
“Londoners are taking direct action and fighting back, protecting homes by occupying their estates.”
Betiel Mehari, resident, Guinness Estate: “The Guinness Estate re-development is backed and funded by the London Mayor with public money, to demolish social housing and replace it with expensive flats for private sale. The sort of London our Mayor is creating is not for ordinary people. We need to link up with other campaigns and fight the Mayor at every level – that’s why we’re blocking Boris on the 23rd.”
Janette Evans, campaigner, West Hendon Estate: “Boris Johnson needs to understand that selling off our public land to the highest bidder is not acceptable and not the answer to London’s housing crisis. London is becoming a city for the rich only – but ordinary people are rising up and uniting and will fight for their right to a home.”
The Radical Housing Network is made up of groups fighting for housing justice, based in London. The network defends affordable and council homes and opposes social cleansing and evictions. Members of the network include the E15 campaigners in Newham; campaigners for the Our West Hendon estate in Barnet; and many other housing groups and campaigns.
Radical Housing Network led the demonstration at Mipim last year, when the world’s largest private property fair came to London to feast on UK housing.
Block the Budget protest 9am Monday 23 February, City Hall, the Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA.
Full details of the Radical Housing Network’s Week of Action: www.radicalhousingnetwork.org Twitter @radicalhousing #housingaction #BlocktheBudget
Notes to editors
Interviews with people affected by the housing crisis & housing campaigners are available.
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