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Social housing not social cleansing

Focus on the Future are fighting for everybody with housing problems and offer our full support to anyone who needs it, writes Hannah Caller

TODAY, Focus E15 campaigners and supporters will be marching with the People’s Assembly on the anti-austerity demonstration in central London, highlighting the effect of the cuts on housing and how resistance can be built. 

Housing in Britain is in crisis with no new council housing available and councils expelling the poor, vulnerable and needy out of London to towns and cities hundreds of miles away while the rich move in to gentrified areas.

“Social housing not social cleansing — keep us in London!” is the demand of a militant group of young people, mothers with children and single residents who have all faced or are facing eviction from their hostel for young people in Stratford, east London, since August 2013 after Newham council withdrew Supporting People funding and landlord East Thames Housing Association began the process of emptying the hostel. 

The first section to close was the mother and baby unit. Young mothers were being offered properties in the private-rented sector as far away as Manchester, Hastings and Birmingham, while East Thames has thousands of properties in east London and Essex, and Newham Council has hundreds of boarded up properties on the doorstep of the hostel, for example in the Carpenters Estate where residents have fought for years against “decanting,” dispersal and demolition. 

Resistance is the way forward. 

The Focus E15 mothers, through their determination, tenacity and direct action, along with their ability to see the bigger picture and take up the struggle for decent social housing for all, have so far halted Newham Council’s attempts to house them outside of London. 

However they have all been housed in expensive and insecure short-term tenancies in the private rented sector. 

Our local Labour councillor Terry Paul has done nothing and neither has Labour MP Lynn Brown. 

Robin Wales, the Labour Newham mayor, has made it clear that the priority for housing in Newham is those who can buy the abundant luxury apartments or pay the unaffordable rents — there is no place for poor working-class people in Newham. 

Wales was in Cannes in the south of France earlier in the year where he attended the world’s biggest annual property fair, the International Market of Real Estate Professionals (MIPIM). 

Some 20,000 people attend this jamboree at the cost of €1,600 (£1,280) each, where government representatives come together with multinational companies and property developers from all over the world to make deals and work out how to make the most out of housing with no regard for those who actually need somewhere to live.

Jasmine Stone, one of the main campaigners, says: “The campaign has grown and we have noticed it isn’t just mothers being affected. 

“We have decided to widen the campaign for everyone. 

“We are introducing our new name — Focus on the Future. 

“We are fighting for everybody with housing problems and offer our full support to anyone who needs it. 

“We will fight for as long as it takes to stop the privatisation of London and stop social cleansing. 

“We are fighting for social housing for all, a home that everyone can afford, where they feel comfortable and have the support network that we all need.”


Join the campaign every week outside Wilkinson’s on The Broadway E15 in Stratford, east London, from 12-2pm and march with us on Saturday July 5 from East Ham Central Park from midday.


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