Support tenant and co-operative run housing

We have a history in Camden of residents successfully managing their own housing stock and supporting their communities.

I was part of Shortlife Community Housing (SCH) an exceptional organisation started by the squatting community in the 70s and 80s. SCH licenced hundreds of dilapidated ‘hard to let’ properties from Camden Council and brought them back in to use. These included housing estates, mansion blocks, and street properties.

Residents were involved in management, maintenance, governance, and social care. We had a neighbourhood office, our own maintenance team, rent collectors, and resident caretakers. Whole estates were saved from demolition and are still now housing residents from SCH days. The drive and enthusiasm of the tenants invigorated some SCH occupied neighbourhoods, like King’s Cross, which at one time would have been stigmatised and considered no go areas. This was a very successful enterprise, though not perfect or without complications of course.

I am not saying we can recreate SCH, but we could look at the model and consider how it might work positively in these times, particularly for those living on estates run by Housing Associations, who are acting more and more like uncaring private landlords, and would seem to be growing and expanding to the point where there is little, or no accountability and social housing is not a priority.

 

 

 

 

Why the contribution is important

 

I feel we need to rally against the insidious depletion of social housing stock - specifically Housing Association related, and the rise of so called affordable rented accommodation (80% market rent).

The merging of Housing Associations in to colossal organisations/developers and their expansion in to private housing development does not protect or support the future of social housing, or neighbourhood communities.

I live on a Victorian housing estate in King’s Cross, run by a Housing Association, which used to be 100% social housing, but in the past 5-10 years has lost 20% to ‘affordable housing’ and ‘right to buy’.

The cost of a 1 bedroom flat on the same estate for instance: 

  • Social rent = £650 per month
  • Affordable rent = £1400 per month

How is this a good idea or fair in any way? It is divisive and certainly doesn’t encourage community cohesion

Also, there is the bedroom tax, which is an unfair assault on some of the poorest in society. For example, a single mum living in a 2 bedroom flat, who has no partner, her children have left home and finds herself out of work will have her housing benefit cut by 14%. She will have to make up the shortfall from her Universal Credit or Job Seekers Allowance, which is only £73.10 per week. At the same time, there is no possibility of downsizing because newly empty 1 bedroom flats are allocated privately as affordable housing.

A tenants’ collective has an invested interest in supporting its residents, maintaining its housing stock, looking after the environment, building social cohesion and keeping rents at a truly affordable level. We need homes and a voice to establish good working communities. Let’s get back to grassroots and look towards a better quality of life which is healthier, and more secure.

 

 

by Catherine on January 28, 2018 at 12:54PM

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