Posts Tagged ‘housing’

44 Islington Park Street

June 7, 2015
44 Islington Park Street

44 Islington Park Street

Islington Park Street or to be more precise 44 Islington Park Street is four Victorian properties knocked into one.

It was created in the early 1970s by a former Franciscan friar Greg Moore.

His big idea was that vulnerable people such as recovering drug addicts and ex-offenders would live side-by-side with those who did not have problems in a network of communes. He also established the  Crescent Road Community in Kingston upon Thames

The tenants at both communities are now facing eviction by One Housing Group.

One Housing Group are a Housing Association.

A Housing Association from its name, sounds ok, a nice community feel,  but they are not, these are greed-driven, unaccountable, modern day Rachman landlords.

As the tenants of what was then Pavilion Housing Association at Firgrove Court learnt one day when they awoke to find their homes earmarked for a supermarket car park, part of the destruction of Farnborough town centre by a greedy property developer.

One Housing Group are behaving true to form. They want to evict their tenants to realise the asset value of the properties.

One Housing Group (OHG) last month wrote to the communes’ residents saying it intended to “decant” them.

Are people like the contents of a wine bottle, to be decanted?

Decant being a weasel word for eviction.

We are two London communities, one made up of 18 low-income adults who share a cooperative house in Islington, the other is 21 adults and 3 children who share a similar house in Kingston. Our communities have been in existence for nearly 40 years and some of us have lived in our home for over three decades.

One Housing Group, the housing association that owns our properties, has stated that “group homes” such as ours must be “phased out” and that they intend to “decant” us. Court proceedings are being initiated in an attempt to evict all residents from the properties as soon as possible.

Our residents range in age from 4 to 79 and we are thriving examples of supportive, sustainable communal living. We cook, eat and socialise together, make decisions together about how our houses are run, and collectively provide care and support to those of our residents who are young, elderly or sick.

Many of us are vulnerable and will be seriously affected if we are evicted from our home. One older resident has Parkinson’s disease and is likely to be forced into residential care if he is removed from his house. Another spent his youth in foster care and was placed in his house by social services, aged 16; this is the only home he has known. One resident found her community as a place of safety following years of domestic abuse. Children may have to change their schooling and sole parents will lose their support systems and local contacts.

Our way of life offers a positive vision of sustainable, supportive, affordable communal living and an alternative to the social isolation faced by many in the city. Social landlords should be fostering more communities like ours, not tearing us apart.

The experience of the Firgrove Court tenants, was eviction from maisonettes set within extensive green space, to two blocks of ugly flats with a car parking space.

What we are seeing for the two properties in London, is ongoing social cleansing. Tenants being cleansed from desirable parts of London, being kicked out of their homes to enable the owners of the properties be it private landlords or social landlords profiting from the evictions and repossessions.

Please sign the petition opposing eviction of these two communities.

Top story in Real Estate Late Edition (Tuesday 9 June 2015).

The Right to Buy

April 14, 2015
The Right to Buy

The Right to Buy

At a time of housing crisis, when 1.8 million families languish on council waiting lists, how can David Cameron justify a massive £5.8 billion sell-off? — Julia Hartley-Brewer, Daily Telegraph

The Right to Buy was always heralded by the Tories as a success, but it never was, it led us to the housing crisis that we are facing today, with people either being screwed by Rachman landlords (and that includes Housing Associations) or homeless and llving on the streets.

Since the introduction of Right to Buy, more than 271,438 council homes have been lost from the council housing stock in London alone.

In principle, with conditions attached, it was a sensible policy.

If someone living in their Council House, had been allowed to buy at a small discount, remained living in their house, and the money was ploughed back to build more houses, it would have been an excellent scheme.

But the money was not ploughed back into social housing, the tenants were allowed to buy at deep discounts.

But even with those deep discounts, many could not afford the mortgage payments. Property developers are offering tenants the money to buy, they split the profits.

We now have the ludicrous situation where Councils are paying several times what the rents were, to house people in the very same houses that were once council houses.

Tories have put a cap on Housing Benefits, and yet they have created the situation whereby rents are high.

When The Right to Buy ran out of steam, council estates were sold of to Housing Associations, modern-day Rachman landlords accountable to no one. Tenants found they were bullied, rents went up, repairs were not carried out.

Housing Associations are property developers, they build shopping centres, student accommodation, anything they can make money on. Tenants are kicked out of their homes, the land sold for redevelopment.

Tories have now announced the The Right to Buy for Housing Association tenants.

The Sun trumpets on their front page. If backed by The Sun, then it must be bad.

Housing Associations are businesses, up to their neck in debt to the banks, the housing stock is the collateral.

When even the Tory Daily Telegraph describes the scheme announced by David Cameron as economically illiterate and morally wrong we know the scheme to be seriously flawed.

This policy may well be politically tempting to Tory campaign managers, and even more financially tempting to housing association tenants, but that doesn’t stop it being dumb, economically illiterate and – even worse – morally wrong.

But all useless Ed Miliband could do was bleat where is the money coming from?

In essence it means those already housed get a windfall, whereas those not housed get two-fingers.

The scheme will cost £5.8 billion, according to the most conservative estimate by the National Housing Federation. Transference of wealth from society (ie taxpayers and the owners of the housing stock) to private wealth. The opposite of what we should be doing, which is expanding the commons, creating open coops, creating a fairer society.

If tenants can afford the mortgage, they are not the poorest members of society. Tenants could receive a windfall of £100,000 with 70% discount.

If housing is forcibly sold off, that in itself is an incentive not to build more social housing.

If this sell-off of rented housing is such a great idea, then why are we not seeing forced sales in the private sector, with private sector tenants being able to buy from their Rachman landlords at 70% discount of the market price?

When you sell off council housing (and now housing association housing), the housing waiting list grows ever longer.

A sensible Right to Buy would be, small discount, restrictions on when the property can be resold, not for at least ten years, that when sold, any profits are split 50:50 between the new owner and the council, any proceeds made from sales are ploughed back into new housing stock.

Tories have said councils must sell off their most expensive houses, build cheaper inferior houses as a replacement. Forcing councils to sell off their quality housing, (and of course kick out the tenants), is yet another example of social cleansing.

This sell off of social housing will benefit only those who can buy, a small number of people.

It is called bribing voters and should be treated as such. Not only is it bribing voters, it is bribing voters with assets we already collectively own.

It will do nothing to help the homeless, nothing to help those in the private sector, nothing to help those on the housing  waiting list.

The policy has been attacked by Shelter, CBI and Housing Associations.

Meanwhile in London social cleansing is taking place, whole swathes of housing are being demolished, the tenants kicked out, the bulldozed sites to be redeveloped to build expensive property for sale to speculators in the Middle East, Russia and China.

Ninety two families on New Era Estate face eviction

November 10, 2014

We are all in it together, we are told.

Today, party leaders were kowtowing to their paymasters at CBI.

Austerity is not working. David Cameron promised more austerity. In a race to the bottom, and not only in poll ratings, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband promised anything you can cut, we can cut even further.

Not all in it together if you live on the New Era Estate in Hoxton.

The New Era Estate in Hoxton has a long history of providing affordable housing and has been home to some people for 70 years.

Not for much longer.

Devastated families are facing being evicted after the inherited estate of Britain’s richest Memeber of Parlieament bought a stake in their homes.

Tory Richard Benyon’s £110 million family firm is part of a consortium that recently bought the housing estate and announced plans for a massive rent hike.

Berkshire Member of Parliament Richard Benyon is a director of the family 300-year-old Englefield Estate, which owns 20,000 acres of land from Hampshire to Scotland.

Its portfolio includes the 250-property Benyon Estate in East London which is now a “minority shareholder” in the flats on the New Era Estate.

Do we let Richard Benyon MP and his bother Edward, motivated by greed, drive people out of their homes?

We need Fair Rents we need tougher action against Rachman landlords like the Benyon Brothers.

A strange article in the Daily Mail, on the one hand attacking Russell Brand for taking part in the New Era Estate protest, whilst at the same time acknowledged that following acquisition of the estate by modern day Rachman Benyon Brothers, tenants face a hike from affordable rents to market rents, which could see a tripling of rents and them forced out of their homes.

Daily Mail more interested in attack on Russell Brand, than reporting on eviction of ninety two families by the Rachman Benyon Brothers.

We are creating a situation where ordinary working people are being socially cleansed out of London and will be forced to commute into London, or live on the streets of London.

A return to the London of Charles Dickens.

We already have food banks and workfare, how long before we have the workhouse? Look at the advantages, why have consumer tat produced in China, when we can have the poor working in the workhouse to earn their keep?

The ConDem government complains the Housing Benefits bill is too high. The reason it is too high, is because taxpayers are subsiding Rachman landlords like the Benyon Brothers. Keen to put a cap on benefits, not so keen a cap on rents.

The New Era Estate was built by a charitable trust in the mid-1930s, the redbrick square has provided homes to local working people at affordable rents. That is until sold to a consortium of greedy developers, of which the Benyon Brothers are part.

Remember the slogan at the end of WWI, homes fit for heroes. But we’d rather stick plastic poppies on lampposts.

Lyndsey Garratt is a 35-year-old mother, works as a care co-ordinator at the local NHS trust. Her rent was £640 a month for the two-bed flat she shares with her daughter. When her contract expires in July 2016, she will be charged around £2,400 a month. For Lyndsey Garratt that is way more than her entire take-home pay. Since the Benyon Brothers acquisition, her rent has already shot up by £160 a month.

Her local Council has told her what to expect should she be evicted. As a single mother, she and eight-year-old Daisy will be moved into a homeless shelter, for anything up to four years; then it’s temporary accommodation, which could be in Manchester or Birmingham.

Richard Benyon lives in Englefield House, a stately home just outside Reading, complete with deer park and 3,500 acres of woodlands. Within the estate’s walls lies most of Englefield village. being a Tory, he backed the Bedroom Tax. He gets £2 million of public money from the EU to keep up his farmland. Handouts for the rich taxes for the poor.

Russell Brand was there, supporting the tenants against greedy Rachman landlords, where was Ed Miliband? Oh yes, talking to the CBI.

Devastated families face eviction after Britain’s richest MP buys housing estate and hikes up rent

June 30, 2014

Richard Benyon’s estate has told his tenants in East London there are more rises to come – one resident, Debra Cox, described it as ‘social cleansing’

Richard Benyon and a community furious over rent hikes

Richard Benyon and a community furious over rent hikes

Devastated families are facing being evicted after the inherited estate of Britain’s richest MP bought a stake in their homes.

Tory Richard Benyon’s £110million family firm is part of a consortium that snapped up the housing estate and announced plans for a massive rent hike.

Up to 90 households in East London fear the Benyons’ plan to charge “market rents” will treble their bills.

The New Era Estate, in Hoxton, has a long history of providing affordable housing and has been home to some people for 70 years.

Distraught Debra Cox, 49, who has lived there for 18 years, said: “This is social cleansing – this has always been a form of social housing and they just want rid of us.

“I have been to the council and was told we don’t have a chance of being rehoused.”

Soaring house prices have driven o­rdinary families out of vast swathes of the UK – particularly the capital where the average price of a home rocketed by 18.5% last year.

Britain’s housing crisis is worsened by weak legal protection for private tenants, who can be forced out of homes they have lived in for years at a few weeks’ notice.

At a heated meeting on Thursday, teaching assistant Debra told the new landlord: “You do realise that as soon as you put them on at market value, whenever that may be, myself, my husband and my 18-year-old daughter will be homeless?”

Her husband Gary, 50, fumed: “My wife had a seizure during the night brought on by the stress.

“My wife is ill and I am going to lose my fucking flat because of you and your mates.”

New Era Estate Hoxton

New Era Estate Hoxton

Berkshire MP Benyon is a director of his family’s 300-year-old Englefield Estate, which owns 20,000 acres of land from Hampshire to Scotland.

Its portfolio includes the 250-property Benyon Estate in East London which is now a “minority shareholder” in the flats on the New Era Estate.

His brother Edward Benyon confirmed the family was part of the consortium during the meeting.

He also announced plans to ­refurbish the 1930s homes and build more flats on the roof.

Edward added: “The goal, which is something I have had to say to all of you, is the fact that the rents will be going to market value.”

He refused to confirm future rents but the Benyons have already hiked them by 10% this year.

Edward said: “Bearing in mind the rents were so far below market value we ­considered a 10% rise to be fair.”

One resident said: “When Edward Benyon came up to my flat he actually said that next year would be a lot more.”

Edward replied: “I’m not going to sit here now and tell you it’s going to be double, quadruple, whatever it’s going to be.”

He caused uproar when he was asked about eviction and said: “We’ve never evicted anybody because when people haven’t been able to afford to pay the rent they’ve moved out.”

One resident said: “What if they’ve got nowhere to go?”

And a second added: “You really don’t give a shit do you?”

New developments have led to the gentrification of Hoxton

New developments have led to the gentrification of Hoxton

Edward promised “we are not going to keep anything hidden” and claimed “there are a number of people who wanted to buy this block of flats who wanted to knock it down”.

Local Labour MP Meg Hillier said the loss of affordable housing was “hollowing out the community”.

She said: “Any landlord with any moral fibre would consider that these are people’s homes not just properties.

“The Government seems to think that the market can deliver for people on low incomes and it can’t.

“The toffs on the front bench don’t have a clue how people are living.”

When the Benyon Estate discovered the Mirror was investigating, it demanded “details of any named contributors” to this story.

Despite this, dozens of residents wanted to talk to us.

Single mum Lindsey Garrett has lived on the estate with her parents all her life.

She works as a care co-ordinator for the local NHS trust.

But the market rent on a two-bed flat in Hoxton is now more than her take-home wage.

Lindsey said: “It has been terrifying, horrific. We are completely devastated.

“I haven’t been able to sleep with the thought of being homeless. My dad’s disabled and I don’t know where we are all going to end up.”

Since she moved in, the Benyon Estate has raised Lindsay’s rent from £668 a month to £796.

The average cost of a similar two-bedroom flat on Rightmove.com is nearly £2,000 a month.

Other residents include Ruth Jacobs, 84, who has lived on the estate for 70 years.

She said: “It is terrible. I got a letter two weeks ago. I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Gaye Studman, 56, who lives with Malcolm Ryan, 58, and her daughter Angel Studman, 10, said: “They just want people with money in here.

“We’ve been told we have to be evicted by a bailiff together with our children before the council will help us.”

A Mirror investigation with the GMB union earlier this year revealed Benyon’s £110million estate has received hundreds of thousands of pounds of housing benefit – despite the MP attacking the “something for nothing” welfare state.

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said of the latest revelation: “This is an absolute scandal.

“Affordable housing being destroyed and it’s coming from the very top of the Tory party who have no hesitation in dipping into taxpayers’ funds as they do it.

“Cameron should disown this fatcat profiteering MP. GMB will help the tenants in any way we can.”

On top of Mr Benyon’s haul from tenants and the taxpayer, his family farms received more than £2million in EU subsidies since 2000.

Residents of the New Era Estate demonstrate

Residents of the New Era Estate demonstrate

Edward Benyon said last night that New Era estate’s previous owners put it up for sale two years ago and sold it at “commercial market value for a substantial profit”.

He went on: “The Benyon Estate manages the property and undertook detailed independent reporting from surveyors on the state of the building, which showed several deficiencies consistent with its age including poor provision of heating and badly damaged windows.

“Any purchaser of the property would need to charge market rates of rent, however we have given tenants new contracts so they have another year to decide what they want to do.

“We have met each tenant personally to explain the situation and meetings are now taking place to help them in the future.”

He went on: “Richard is a firm supporter of the welfare state and the safety net it provides for people.

“On the advice of solicitors I requested the names of named contributors.

“Each individual is different and knowing the circumstances of persons who are speaking to you may have allowed us the opportunity to address to you specific points in relation to those individuals.”

Accounts of the New Era Estate’s previous owner, First LBS Holdings Limited, show it made a £306,865 profit and its shareholders received a £300,000 dividend last year.

Reposted from Daily Mirror.

This is the face of greed in modern Britain, and why we need rent reform and protection for private tenants from Rachman landlords.


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