Monthly Archives: January 2015

Focus E15 campaign to lead thousands marching on Boris against housing crisis

On 31 January 2015, people from across the capital are marching on City Hall to demand solutions to the housing crisis and better housing for Londoners.

The March for Homes has two assembly points – the East London ‘leg’ starts at 12 noon in Shoreditch; the South London ‘leg’ starts at 12 noon in Elephant & Castle. There is also an accessible short march starting from Potters Field SE1. The two ‘legs’ plus the short march will meet to protest together at City Hall, where a rally will be held from 2pm.

The East London ‘leg’ is led by community housing campaigns Focus E15 and New Era – supported by a wide range of groups and individuals including tenant organisations, trade unions and housing campaigns, London MPs and London Assembly members. The March for Homes was initiated by Defend Council Housing, the South London People’s Assembly and Unite Housing Workers.

The march is uniting everyone that opposes government and mayoral policies causing soaring rents, loss of social housing and rising homelessness, and is demanding action to end the housing crisis:

  • Rent controls
  • Cut rents, not benefits
  • Scrap the Bedroom Tax and Benefit Cap
  • Affordable and secure homes for all
  • Stop demolishing quality council homes and build new council houses
  • Better pay & conditions for housing workers: better housing services
  • Stop scapegoating immigrants and end discriminatory immigration checks for tenants

Supporters of the march include: Defend Council Housing, People’s Assembly (London); community campaigns New Era, Focus E15, Fred Wigg & John Walsh, Our West Hendon; renters campaigns Generation Rent, Hackney and Tower Hamlets private renters; trade unions BECTU and Unite Housing Workers; Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Radical Housing Network, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), London Green Party and the Revolutionary Communist Group.

Jasmin Stone, Focus E15 Campaign, said: ‘I’m marching because we need to stand together side by side, hand in hand, fighting for decent homes for all! Focus E15 campaign are ready to make some noise on 31 January – please join us as we march through the heart of East London! This is the beginning of the end of the housing crisis.’

Eileen Short, national Chair of Defend Council Housing, said: ‘We are taking to the street to show the united demand for urgent action. Tenants from all tenures, public and private, campaigns and trade unions are determined to organise together to resist evictions. The growing housing movement will not swallow hollow promises and more empty luxury housing. The London Mayor and councils must act now to control rents and invest in council housing.’

Alastair Stephens, People’s Assembly (London), said: ‘Polls show that most people support rent controls, greater regulation of the private rented sector and a return to the mass building of council housing. Only these actions will solve the housing crisis. We will take these demands onto the streets on 31 January.’

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FB Event (East): East London March for Homes FB Event (South): South London March for Homes

Web: Twitter: @marchforhomes #marchforhomes

Victory! A home in Newham is found for Zineb and her children.

The Focus E15 campaign is thrilled that Newham Council has found appropriate local accommodation for Zineb and her three children. The family had spent a sleepless night on the floor of the local police station, following their eviction on Friday 16th January.

Then, after being placed in an unheated and distant hostel in Barnet, Zineb, a council employee and single parent working for minimum wage, was rehoused in reasonable reach of her job and her eldest child’s school. The family can now begin to resettle their lives, following the shock of their eviction last Friday.

However, as the Council is paying the family’s rent to a private landlord, wider questions remain about the hundreds of empty homes on  the Carpenters Estate (council owned), and in the Focus E15 hostel (managed by East Thames Housing Association). Public money is being put into the hands of private landlords during emergencies like this one, while publicly-owned homes remain empty. Zineb’s new flat is a great win for the family, but the bigger issue of poor and working people being pushed out of their homes and their communities remains critical.

We will continue to stand with one another to make sure Newham remains a place where everyone is truly able to ‘live, work, stay.’

Update on Newham council employee

Correction regarding the case of  Zineb Saafan -Newham council employee.
The initial housing offer from Newham was in fact within London, near Mill Hill, Barnet. We apologise for the initial inaccurate information that suggested the offer was for outside London. However the combination of distance and travel costs across London make this offer practically impossible for a single mother of three young children to manage, as Zineb works 16 hours a week, on minimum wage for Newham council and her child attends school in Newham.

In response to Newham Council’s statement issued on 19/01/15 (regarding the case of Zineb Saafan).
The campaign was approached by Zineb on Saturday 17/01/15 at the end of our street stall. Zineb  came to ask for help because she had been evicted from  private rented accommodation and was homeless. She was with her 3 children and was clearly upset. She had nowhere to go.

On Monday 19/01/15 the Focus E15 campaign called for a peaceful demonstration outside Bridge House  to support Zineb -at her request. However the council refused entry, closed the building and called the police. As  we caused no hindrance to other people there was no need for the council to close down the housing office and deny people their housing appointments.

The eviction of Zineb and her family is only one example amongst many that this campaign comes across on a weekly basis during the street stall in Stratford.  In Newham the skyline is increasingly dominated by luxury apartments whilst council estates like the Carpenters Estate are left empty.

We will not tolerate people being ripped from their homes, from their work and from their schools. Our messages are clear: Repopulate the Carpenters Estate! Social housing not social cleansing!

Focus E15 campaign helps homeless Newham Council employee and her three children left in police station lobby overnight

On Friday morning, Zineb, a single mother of three who works part-time for Newham Council was evicted by a private landlord, leaving the family with nowhere to go.

Zineb went to Newham Council’s Bridge House at 11am to declare the family homeless at which point she was offered temporary accommodation two hours outside of London. Upon rejecting the offer because of what it would mean for her job and her eldest daughter’s school, she was deemed to have made herself intentionally homeless.

She refused to leave Bridge House and council workers called the police, who took her to Forest Gate police station where the family had no choice but to stay overnight, in the lobby, sleeping on the floor. The next day she came to the Focus E15 campaign stall and asked for help. We immediately put a message out to our networks and were able to find emergency accommodation in Newham for the weekend.

On Monday 19 January people from Focus E15 campaign will be accompanying Zineb and her children to Bridge House and expect Newham Council to find accommodation for this mother and Newham employee in reasonable reach of work and school.

Join us on Monday 19 January at 9am at Bridge House, 320 High Street, Stratford, London E15 1EP

The message is clear – NO TO SOCIAL CLEANSING