By Tim Smith
I recently witnessed surveyors prepping the three-bedroom flat upstairs for auction after the death of my neighbour, a secure tenant. It will be the second Peabody social home sent to private auction in this street in the last six months.
The first to go was a ground floor one-bedroom flat converted for wheelchair users and therefore specifically designed for a disabled tenant. Flats of this type are gold dust. Why would a social landlord sell these flats when there are 11,000 homeless in London at the mercy of private landlords?
Now, it has been sold off to a private owner, and lost forever as a social home.
Both flats belonged to Peabody. Now they will be in private hands.
The loss prompted me to re-start some resistance to the loss of social homes. As part of this, I want to contact other Peabody tenants and residents, and to compile statistics about auctions which offload social homes.
According to the Chartered Institute of Housing, over the last eight years, 70,000 new homes were built for social rent. During the same period, 280,000 social rent homes were lost through sales, demolitions, or conversions from social rents to full market levels.
Collective Action: We Must Not Lose Ground
Allowing these homes to slip away means that government can continue announcing one side of the story – how much new social housing has been built – without telling the other side of the story, that we are actually suffering a net loss of social housing.
Allowing these homes to slip away means that people will continue to suffer the desperate conditions of overcrowding and homelessness, and will continue to be at the mercy of abusive private landlords. There isn’t enough genuinely affordable housing. We can’t afford to lose those we have.
I have been putting signs on the Peabody properties in this street that are up for sale. It struck me that we could organise this for every property that comes up for auction if we had a group of committed tenants. This could be a part of our action to raise awareness.
If you would like to get involved, please contact me via SHAC (email@example.com).
4 September 2021
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.