Empty Ministry of Justice flats in Islington, north London, were occupied by a group of activists over the weekend to highlight the housing and climate crises.
The protest was organised over the scandal of 28 three- and four-bedroom flats owned by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) which have been left empty for more than ten years.
A similar occupation by Housing Rebellion activists last month highlighted the widespread demolition of social housing estates across London when protestors occupied a Peabody home on the Lesnes estate in Bexley for three days.
The Ministry of Justice homes has left once habitable homes to rot
An ongoing local campaign has been calling on the MoJ to transfer the flats to the local authority for use as urgently needed accommodation. Islington council reports that it has over 15,000 households on its waiting list.
The MoJ has so far been unresponsive and the homes remain boarded up.
Tamsin Stirling, a member of Housing Rebellion which organised the occupation and protest said:
The flats have been occupied to highlight the outrageous fact that these homes have been left empty for so long while many, many families are living in cramped temporary accommodation with little chance of being rehoused. Three- and four-bedroom homes are in particularly short supply”
Tamsin Stirling, Housing Rebellion
Islington Homes for All has also welcomed the occupation. Activists Andy Bain and Morag Gillie lent support and said:
It is a scandal that working class people are being squeezed out of a London borough when they could be placed into these three- and four-bedroom flats”
Islington Homes for All
The occupation has taken place in the context of over 34,000 empty homes across London, the highest number since 2010. At the same time, over 42,000 households with children are living in temporary accommodation in the city.
A view from the inside: supporters set up camp outside the occupied flats
Grace Lally, member of Housing Rebellion and the Radical Housing Network highlighted how leaving homes empty, or demolishing buildings to build new, are two clear examples of how the UK’s broken housing system is directly linked to the deepening climate crisis. She added that the greenest building is the one that already exists, saying:
Homes are left unrepaired for years and then demolished. We need retrofitting of existing buildings to be secure, affordable homes – not speculative investment in luxury developments; we need to put people and planet before profit”
Grace Lally, Housing Rebellion and Radical Housing Network activist
The coalition of housing groups is helping to highlight the wastage inherent in the current housing crisis, the commercialisation of public housing, and the government’s disregard for the plight of those in urgent need of decent and genuinely affordable housing.
28 August 2023
If you have a WordPress account, you can keep up to date with our blogs by subscribing to our site below: