Fight for Sites – Traveller Solidarity Network mass action

TOMORROW we’re taking action in solidarity with the families of Dale Farm, and Traveller families across the country who face racism and state violence wherever they go. Join us to expose the role the government plays in attacking Travellers’ rights and criminalising entire communities.

Friday 19th October, 1pm at Victoria Station, London
Mass Action – Dale Farm Anniversary – Evict the Deparment for Communities and Local Government!

One Year Ago, at dawn on 19 October 2011, hundreds of riot police and bailiffs stormed the Dale Farm Traveller community to carry out one of the largest and most brutal evictions in UK history.

Eric Pickles’ Department for Communities and Local Government funded the Dale Farm eviction to the tune of £1.2 million. They are also leading the wholesale attack on Gypsy and Traveller rights, abolishing local government targets for the provision of sites and strengthening powers to evict through the Localism Act.

It is time to fight back! Join the Traveller Solidarity Network’s mass action to evict the Department for Communities and Local Government – the eviction to end all evictions!

Share via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/140070222801717/?ref=ts
Contact travellersolidarity@riseup.net for more information about helping out and crash space.
Watch the promo video and read blog updates: http://travellersolidarity.org/
Follow Traveller Solidarity on Twitter: @TravellerSol

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great summary. watch this space for details of the venue for 17th Nov as it may change

Cuts Cafe

HOUSING ACTION

  • Who was there: Different housing movements came together to discuss their campaigns and how to draw them together. Including Squash (resisting the criminalisation of squatting), Digs (private renters in Hackney), Housing Solidarity (direct action against exploitative letting agents), Housing for the 99% (building a coordinated housing movement), Eviction Resistance, Private Tenants Action Group Haringey, Lewisham People Before Profit, Squatters Legal Network and more.
  • What’s happening: online map of long-term empty buildings and who owns them; landlord rating website for Hackney; inspections on letting agents in Haringey (about reference checks and how much each agency pays); housing session at the Up the Ante event in December.
  • Outcome of the meeting: plan to form a coalition to share updates and news, support on fellow projects, sharing resources. Meeting to discuss on Saturday 17 November at Pembroke House (Heygate Estate). Campaign to maybe focus on…

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Solidarity to Netpol and the rest. This co-opting of an important strand of activism is a threat to us all.

Netpol

The civil liberties organisation Liberty will provide their brand of legal observers on October 20 for the latest TUC organised march against the cuts. They will not only monitor the police, but also protesters – much like a special (volunteer) constable would. However, as experienced legal observers we can see three main problems with Liberty’s plans for this Saturday: their volunteers are not independent, they are monitoring protesters and they do not know what they are doing.

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an invitation to get involved

Initially, ‘Housing Solidarity’ was conceived as a campaign to unite housing struggles from disparate groups, especially conscious of different types of tenure – private renting, social renting, owner occupying, squatting, travelling, mooring etc. This idea emerged from the squatting movement which was facing the most recent round of criminalisation. As housing solidarity we went to every housing related action or meeting taking the message of unity and trying to map out a path to building the mythical ‘housing movement’.

At some point the proactive work on this fizzled out a bit – partly because of personal disputes (an age old activist tale). Things were dormant for a while and then the site was revived again as a platform for the recent Victorstone dispute.

The success of this was pretty overwhelming and could be seen to vindicate the original vision of building a militant movement out of disparate individual experiences of the housing market.

Reinforcing that the meeting at the Cuts Cafe on Monday was also pretty overwhelming in showing how many other people held a similar vision. From that there is talk of building a coalition of housing campaigns based around shared aims and principles.

This is exactly what we always envisioned from the start and it would be great to be an active part of this – which leads onto thinking what role to play.

Fundamentally this is a blog and twitter promoting militant housing action, which is presumably something a housing movement could do with. As individuals we might be involved in particular campaigns, but this is what the activity of Housing Solidarity has boiled down to.

It seems likely that the discussions about forming a housing coalition will be reconvened around November 17th and it would be great to go there with a strong vision of what we want to contribute. So it seems a good time to ask if anyone else who reads this blog and twitter feed would be interested in contributing to it. This could either be in writing articles, or contributing to them by collecting stories for other people to write up, proofreading, editing, shaping the collective analysis. Also at the moment there’s no web design going into the site and we’re using the most basic commercial blogging software.

So, if you’d like to be involved please get in touch at housolidarity@gmail.com

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The future is not working for housing

The current government has capped housing benefit, clearing poor people out of areas which the housing market has deemed desirable.

By criminalising squatting the government has made homelessness even more dangerous than it already is. Now the first person has been sent to prison for breaking the new law.

These things need to be opposed, but that is not just because they are the wrong ‘policies’.

The TUC suggest that the problem is policies and with a different set we could have growth instead of austerity. The TUC steers away from any criticism of the system within which these policies are made – the system of property, industry and work.

“Instead of just letting the banks go back to business and bonuses as usual, we need policies that promote new and old industries.”

Firstly one might wonder why we would let the banks go back to business at all.

Secondly, whilst these individual policies are odious, the real problem is deeper. If we accept that housing should be addressed through the marketplace, then there will always be those who struggle to find housing and some who are homeless.

And building extra housing for the market won’t solve the problem for any significant period of time. Whatever surplus housing is created will be consumed as demand grows to meet supply, pushing us back into housing scarcity.

The market culture encourages us to consume as much of each commodity as our means allow. Through this overconsumption those who have the means push the commodity into scarcity for those who don’t, through second homes and speculation keeping properties empty.

The people who benefit from this are those who own the most property, the value of which remains inflated. The rest of us are stuck in a cycle of constantly trying to find the means to pay for our housing – a commodity that we have no option but to consume in one form or another.

For those of us without property the way we get these means is to sell our labour. Again this is mediated through a market – the job market. Here we find ourself in competition with each other as to who will accept the lowest working conditions and the least pay.

In this context what good will more industry do, new or old?

More industry means more markets – more resources that are constantly in a state of scarcity.

More markets means more work, as we struggle to earn the means to afford these commodities which are constantly just on the edge of reach.

All this might be great for the unions, which exist from the payments which workers pay to keep them ‘protected’ in the workplace.

Instead of more industry, we need to get together to create a world were the resources we need are not distributed by markets, according to the ability to pay, but instead are made as freely available as possible for all. At the same time we need to reduce as much as possible the amount of work that is needed to keep this world functioning and then distribute fairly the labour that needs to be done.

We do not need to build this world from scratch. We already have a world with many of the things in it that we need, and these resources are rightfully ours as it was our labour collectively which made it. The new world can be built in the shell of the old if we are willing to stand up and take what is ours.

In some ways squatting has offered us a vision of what this might look like. This is although at times squatting can feel like an extension of the market logic when we find ourselves competing for limited space and are treated very differently by the authorities depending on our social class.

The central truths of the squatting movement are still strong though. There is a potential abundance of housing if we are willing to go out and take it. Small groups of desperate people, nor bands of hipsters can do this alone though. We need to move collectively to seize what is rightfully ours.

For a future where we meet our housing needs through our own efforts or the solidarity of society, but never work.

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Fatal arson attack reported at squat in Hackney

link: Hackney Gazette

Some pretty upsetting news has been reported of a suspected arson attack at an old Salvation Army hostel, believed to be used as a squat in Lower Clapton, Hackney. So far one person has reportedly died and another is seriously injured.

Housing Solidarity was an idea that came out of the squatting community in London, so this is very close to home. So far we only have news of this from the internet, but if anyone does know anyone affected then we’d like to offer whatever support we can.

Squatters are often subject to abuse and demonisation, which recently crystallised into a concerted campaign revolving around a group of Tory MPs including Mike Weatherly and newspapers such as the Evening Standard. This campaign of demonisation was the backdrop to the legislation which passed through parliament recently criminalising squatting in residential properties.

Whether or not this was a factor in this situation, it acts as a reminder of the damage that such processes cause. These are just a few thoughts and we don’t know the situation yet, and would love to know more. If you know anything, especially if there are things people can do to help, please email housolidarity@gmail.com

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Victorstone pay up after scores call to complain

article copied from Solfed.org.uk: http://solfed.org.uk/?q=south-london/victorstone-pay-up-after-scores-call-to-complain

Ruth, Jess and Charlotte recently took up a rented property in Bethnal Green through the Shoreditch branch of Victorstone Property Consultants, paying £3,451 as rent and deposit. After they had only just moved into the house, Victorstone fell out with the landlords over the fees they would take, the landlords decided they wanted to get out of the letting, and changed the locks.

Ruth, Jess and Charlotte managed to get some money back from the landlady, but the landlady had never been transferred the full amount, because Victorstone had subtracted their fee. Victorstone initially tried to mislead Ruth, Jess and Charlotte, implying that all the money had been transferred to the landlady. In fact they intend to keep c.£1200 of their money for a completely failed deal.

Victorstone were sent an ultimatum by supporters of Ruth, Jess and Charlotte and this was signed by Solfed amongt others. When the deadline expired at 1pm on Wednesday 1st August scores of people called in to Victorstone to complain, an action supported by Solfed members from a number of our different local groups. Victorstone found the sheer number of calls overwhelming and by 3 o’clock they had contacted the tenants to offer to repay the money.

As tenants ourselves, or otherwise working class people seeking acceptable housing, we see the struggle against exploitative letting agents as being a collective one. We are ready for more struggles like this one. We encourage people who are treated like this to treat the experience as political and we want to hear from anyone who wants to talk about how to take a stand.

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