housing

To the London Fire Brigade from the Syrian Civil Defence [White Helmets] in Daraa, Southern Syria:

We were saddened to hear about the loss of souls in the Grenfell Tower fire, including Mohammad al-Haj Ali, a Syrian from our home of Daraa who had fled to London seeking safety from death and destruction.  

We appreciate your efforts to search for bodies for days in a row and we feel your pain because this horror is our daily reality. In Daraa, we’re under the heaviest attacks we’ve ever seen in this deadly war. Hundreds of airstrikes have destroyed entire neighbourhoods and fires are everywhere. Just like you, our teams are rushing towards the blazes and we do all we can to rescue the injured.  

The past 16 days have seen 88 people killed and nearly 35,000 civilians displaced from their homes.

A civil defence centre was targeted and destroyed, and 5 volunteers were injured in the bombing -- as you know it’s a terrible thing to see your teammates suffer.

You have been so generous to us, donating equipment to our teams when you met with our teammates in London. We’ve received trainings from British experts in search-and-rescue and firefighting. Who knows, we might have been trained by the same people. And who knows we might also be saving the lives of the friends of Mohammad al-Haj Ali here in Daraa.

We feel we have so much in common. We all risk our own lives to save as many lives as possible as fast as possible. Our hearts are with you and we wish we could help you in your search for victims.  

We send you strength for your mission and we hope to meet you one day.

The Syria Civil Defence [White Helmets] of Daraa 

“When society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet; its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual."

"These words were written by Friedrich Engels in 1845. Over 170 years later, Britain remains a country that murders its poor. When four separate government ministers are warned that Grenfell and other high rises are a serious fire risk, then an inferno isn’t unfortunate. It is inevitable. What happened wasn’t a "terrible tragedy" or some other studio-sofa platitude: it was social murder."

The above statement is from the Grenfell Action Group's (GAG) website from 22nd June 2017, and one we wholeheartedly support.

Grenfell Tower Fire, Natalie Oxford (Creative Commons)

Also from their website, as we can’t say it any better "the many who lost their lives in this catastrophe were our friends and neighbours. We tried to speak for them in life and we will continue to speak for them now. We share the sense of anger and injustice that has troubled this community for years."

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Over the last few months, the police and Home Office have been systematically arresting, detaining and deporting European Economic Area (EEA) national rough sleepers. 

In May last year, the Government adopted the legally dubious position that rough-sleeping is an “abuse” of EU Citizens’ right to freedom of movement”.  The “abuse of right” law is intended to allow the deportation of EU citizens convicted of crimes, but the Government is using it to crack down on migrant rough sleepers who’ve committed no crime.

Cash-strapped local councils are being bribed to support these actions through access to a new pot of money - the Controlling Migration Fund - available to councils that identify rough sleepers to the Home Office or bully homeless migrants into returning home voluntarily. Over half of the rough-sleepers in London are migrants.  This is largely because of unfair laws that restrict migrants’ ability to claim benefits.  As such, people who have lived, worked and paid tax in the UK for years can find themselves homeless with no safety net.

Even when councils have a legal duty to house migrants (such as when they have children), they do all they can to wriggle out of it - in one case claiming that a mother and her children had a “network” they could rely on because she was staying with a stranger she’d met at the bus stop. 

They end up in a Catch-22 situation - unable to pay their rent, but being faced with arrest and deportation if sleeping rough.

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Tottenham Town Hall, Town Hall Approach Road, Tottenham, London N15 4RY
6.30pm, Monday 9 June
Bring your neighbours and friends

Tenants and residents are objecting to Haringey Council's planned 'estate reviews', to sell off, demolish and redevelop many of our Council housing estates around the borough [*See details at the end]. There have already been large residents' meetings on some of the estates and people are saying 'We Will Not Be Moved!'.

Please come along to this important Lobby. Your family, friends and neighbours are all welcome. Let's put our case to the newly elected-Councillors, and speak out about the future of Haringey.

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The Weekender is on the 26th and 27th April. It’s a collaboration among groups from across London, who work on a whole range of housing issues including private renting, access to welfare, squatting, co-operatives and social housing.

The housing crisis grows steadily deeper, and yet those is power fail to take the necessary action to secure the future of the city. This weekend will bring people together to build a movement of practical solidarity, to resist social cleansing and reclaim the city for the people who live here.

 

It’s set to be an action-packed two days. On Saturday 26th, there are events planned all round London, organised by local groups who are in the Radical Housing Network. Events are set to take place in Lewisham, Lambeth, Brent, Camden, Hackney and Haringey, and include films, info-stalls, discussions, games, and actions. If you’d like to get involved in your area, or if you’d like to propose something in an area that’s not already covered, get in touch!

On Sunday 27th, we’ll all come together in central London, for a day of discussion, action planning and strategising. The day will include:

Action planning and preparation – we will be building for a mass action in the week after the event

Organising against the crisis: How can we work together to build a stronger housing movement?

Alternatives: co-ops, self-builds, neighbourhood plans and more

Speakers including Danny Dorling (author of All that is Solid) and Liz Davies (Haldane Society)

Media training for housing and gentrification action groups

Legal advice surgery and training on providing legal support

Tea, cake (hopefully), chat

For up-to-date information, please see the event page and follow @radicalhousing for updates.