I’ve got a small collection of some infuriating, some exciting articles/links that I’ve come across recently. I’ve tweeted them out enthusiastically, but I think they deserve a bit more attention so I thought I’d have a go at putting them together in a blog post.
Firstly there’s the vile Hammersmith and Fulham council who have used the Localism Act 2011 to narrow the already incredibly restrictive criteria for accessing social housing. Here Hammersmith and Fulham state that those who ‘have given something back to the community’ will be prioritised – showing how workfare is creeping into housing policy as people are forced to ‘volunteer’ in order to access housing instead of housing being allocated according to need. The situation at the moment already means that people are not getting housing to meet their needs – the criteria to access social housing is already very narrow and local councils have all sorts of gate keeping techniques to stop people who are eligible from accessing it. London Coalition Against Poverty has done a lot of great work supporting people getting their homelessness rights (read their pamphlet here) and will be looking into local councils in London to find out what their new policies are with plans for action around this.
On the subject of housing, there has been another protest occupation of a council owned residential property that Camden council were selling off. The protest by Camden Housing Action Group was against the sell-off of council housing and social cleansing, and against the law that criminalises squatting residential buildings. Two people in the protest occupation were arrested under section 144 that criminalises living or intending to live in an abandoned residential property. The court case should be interesting as it was clearly a protest occupation with no one living or intending to live there. Section 144 criminalises homeless people. Here it is being used to criminalise people taking direct action on the housing crisis. Challenges like this – using abandoned residential building for protest occupations, social centres etc – to the law are really important to make this law impossible to enforce. ‘Empty houses, homeless people, that is what should be illegal!’ The two will be in court on Friday 28th March – show them your support on Twitter, facebook etc.
Yet more inspiring housing action – the Focus E15 mums are fighting for their right to secure social housing in the home borough of Newham. Kate Belgrave has been following the women’s’ campaign and Johnny Void has written a good article on them too.
Crowbar Sisterhood published their March newsletter with lots of really cool events in the making. “Crowbar Sisterhood is an inclusive group for all current/former/wannabe squatters who identify as women, including transgender women, and AFAB (assigned female at birth) genderqueer/non-binary trans people who feel a connection to women’s communities.”
The Empty Cages Collective is a newly formed group in Bristol made up of people who have been directly affected by the prison-industrial complex and who have been in prison-related struggles and support. They have called for a year of action and organising against the prison-industrial complex and have organised a Tear Down the Walls speaker tour to help kick this off. Keep your eyes on their website for future events and texts on the prison industrial complex and abolition in the UK.
I love this collection of refusal of work cultural artefacts collected by Novara Media. It’s a shame that the majority of these expressions against work also have shit gender politics – the exception being the absolutely awesome Dolly Parton and Co. in 9 to 5 whose militant anti-work and feminist politics sees them lassoing their boss and taking over the workplace.
There’s the Boycott Workfare week of action (29 March to 6 April) against the new Community Work Placement scheme which is due to start on 1 April, forcing people to work unpaid for 6 months or else face losing subsistence benefits. There’s loads of suggestions for local actions on the blog and Boycott Workfare can offer support with promotion, stickers, and leaflets. Workfare providers like Seetec have complained that they’re struggling to find workfare placements because of all the actions people are taking. Let’s make sure that this latest and longest scheme completely collapses.
Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth are celebrating their first birthday this April. There will be details of a social event on their website soon so if you’re south London based and angry at high rents, benefit cuts, gentrification and more come along and meet the group and have cake.
I think that’s everything. I just stumbled upon this Hackney isn’t crap anti-gentrification walking tour from 2008 which I’ve bookmarked for later.