After the occupation: just the beginning (of the end of the housing crisis)

Newham have in effect shut down the vibrant social hub we created at the E15 Open House. Newham may not be interested in the free music, childrens’ cookery lessons, story telling and play room; they may not be interested in the free debt advice. They may not be in interested in the warmth, solidarity and camaraderie on which the centre was built and which it has produced.

They may not be interested, but thousands of people are. Hundreds of people came through our doors, from people evicted from the Carpenter’s estate to the street homeless, from feminists to students, parents, comedians, the unemployed and the overworked. This is not the end, but the beginning of the movement for housing justice.

Robin Wales and Newham Council continue to tell mistruths and to mislead the public about the reality of the Carpenter’s Estate. He has blamed the resident’s organization for refusing to repopulate the houses. The truth is that he wants to use a private organization to put people in in the short term. The truth is that he wants to sell the land to a developer and that’s why they don’t want long term tenants with rights living there. The residents organization want long term tenants with secure contracts, run and managed by the residents, not by a third party. Third party involvement is also often the route to full sale to a private landlord, such as has happened on the New Era estate in Hoxton.

Newham Council have already boarded up these homes again, just one day after the end of the occupation. We will be watching and will continue to demand that 80-86 Doran Walk and all of the homes on the Carpenter’s Estate are immediately made available as housing. But, this is is not only about Newham. It is about ongoing housing injustice, in which people who live and work in London cannot afford to stay here or are threatened with removal while global elites park their money, tax free in existing properties and those being built.

We call on the movement that we have been part of through our year long struggle and 10 day occupation to continue to demand housing justice and council housing and to keep building the solidarity and the movement that has arisen.

The solution to the ‘housing crisis’ – which is not a crisis, but unfairly distributed housing is the provision of more social housing, paid for by high taxes on the super rich.

Politicians claim there are no easy answers. We say there are easy answers, we are presenting them to you today. End evictions, open up the Carpenter’s estate and every single boarded up council home; tax the properties which are nothing more than tax havens for the rich and which lie empty, while others sleep on the streets.

This experience has shown us that there is a broad based movement for housing in London. We will continue fighting displacement and evictions and for secure, council housing through direct action, mobilisation and legal means. See you on the streets, in the courtrooms and in our future occupations.

This is the beginning of the end of the housing crisis.

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