Last Saturday we were approached at our street stall by a woman called Sharon who is living in the new Olympic ‘East village’. It is horrid to think that this new housing complex has been built on the site of one of Europe’s largest housing co-ops, known as Clays Lane,home to around 450 people. Clays Lane was compulsory purchased to make way for the 2012 London Olympics. Sharon use to live at Clays Lane and in a strange twist of fate, she was rehoused on the site of her former home 14 months ago.
This new housing in the Olympic village is managed by Triathlon Homes. Triathlon is a public/private partnership, boasting on its website that it provides over 1000 ‘affordable’ homes. However what this means is that it charges huge rent at 80% market rate and to top it all, in March 2015, Sharon’s rent was actually raised by a staggering 23%. Who on earth can afford such a massive hike? How much profit does this housing association need? When the market dictates housing policy, no one living in social housing is safe or secure.
In June this year, Sharon was diagnosed with a genetic heart condition. She also lost some of her left vision in both eyes and was registered as visually impaired. Such life changing health conditions meant that Sharon’s life became more challenging and difficult. She lost her job. She is responsible for her son, a 13 year old boy who attends the local school. However Triathlon housing will not accommodate or allow for such changes of personal circumstances. Sharon has been told that she is not eligible to claim housing benefit for the type of housing provided by Triathlon in the Olympic village. It seems as if the housing association is conspiring with Newham Council to push out people on low incomes or those on benefits and to ‘socially cleanse’ the Olympic Village.
Sharon has been giving a notice to quit. However she wants to stay where she is. She does not want to be forced out of Newham and lose her connections with her friends or the hospital where she undergoes check ups and treatment for her condition. We urge Triathlon housing and all ‘social landlords’ to have a heart and to treat people as human beings that need stable shelter for themselves and their children. Sharon should not have to move again. Moving house when you are visually impaired can be difficult as it is hard to adjust to new surroundings. When children keep moving schools they can fall behind with their education and lose formative friendships. Let her son continue with his education at his local school.
This personal story illustrates why our campaign is demanding Social housing not social cleansing!
Join us on our street stall on Saturday, 12pm -2pm on the Broadway in Stratford outside Wilkos.
Come to our March Against Evictions on September 19th, 12pm Stratford Park, West Ham Lane
Please consider asking Triathon to provide long term housing that people can truly afford. Let Sharon stay!