Jasmin Stone and Hannah Caller of the Focus E15 Mothers campaign on why we need to build resistance and fight for decent housing for all.
On Saturday 21 June, Focus E15 campaigners and supporters will be marching with the People’s Assembly on the anti-austerity march in central London, highlighting the effect of the cuts on housing and how resistance can be built. Housing in Britain is in crisis with no new council housing available and councils expelling the poor, vulnerable and needy out of London to towns and cities hundreds of miles away while the rich move in to gentrified areas.
Social housing not social cleansing! Keep us in London! are the demands of a militant group of young people, mothers and babies, and single residents, all who have faced and are facing eviction from their hostel for young people in Stratford, east London since August 2013 after Newham council withdrew Supporting People funding and landlord East Thames Housing Association began the process of emptying the hostel. The first section to close was the mother and baby unit and the young mothers were being offered properties as far away as Manchester, Hastings and Birmingham, in the private-rented sector, while East Thames has thousands of properties in East London and Essex, and Newham Council has hundreds of boarded up properties on the doorstep of the hostel, in Stratford, such as the Carpenters Estate where residents have fought for years against ‘decanting’, dispersal and demolition.
Resistance is the way forward. The Focus E15 mothers, through their determination, tenacity and direct action, along with their ability to see the bigger picture and take up the struggle for decent social housing for all, have so far halted Newham council’s attempts to house them outside of London. However they have all been housed in short term tenancies in the private rented sector, expensive and insecure. Terry Paul the local Labour councillor has done nothing, neither has Labour MP Lynn Brown and Robin Wales, the Labour Newham mayor, has made it clear that the priority for housing in Newham is those who can buy the abundant luxury apartments or afford the unaffordable rents – there is no place for poor working class people in Newham. Robin Wales was in Cannes in the south of France earlier in the year where he attended the annual world’s biggest property fair, the International Market of Real Estate Professionals (MIPIM). 20,000 people attend this jamboree, at the cost of Euro 1,600 each, where government representatives alongside multinational companies and property developers from all over the world come together to further their financial interests and work out how to make the most out of housing with no regard for those who actually need somewhere to live.
Jasmin Stone, one of the main campaigners said that
‘The campaign has grown and we have noticed it isn't just mothers being affected. We have decided to widen the campaign for everyone. We are introducing our new name – Focus on the Future. We are fighting for everybody with housing problems and offer our full support. We will fight for as long as it takes to stop the privatisation of London and stop social cleansing. We are fighting for social housing for all, a home that everyone can afford, where they feel comfortable and have the support network that we all need!’
Join the campaign every week outside Wilkinson’s on The Broadway E15 in Stratford, east London from 12-2pm and march with us on Saturday 5 July from East Ham Central Park from midday – social housing, not social cleansing, housing for all.
To find out more about the Focus E15 Mothers: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Focus-E15-Mothers/602860129757343