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Tenants can resist Scrooge landlords
Last month, evictions hit record-breaking levels. According to the homelessness charity Shelter, more than 1,300 people are put at risk of repossession or eviction every day. The result is that tens of thousands are facing the prospect of a 'festive season' spent in a bed and breakfast accommodation. Worse still, many will find themselves on the streets.
This is the bitter cold reality of British capitalism in 2014. The cause?... a perfect storm of skyrocketing rents and house prices, insecure work and paltry wages, welfare cuts, benefit sanctions and more.
Clearly the 'spirit of goodwill' we are encouraged to display at Christmas is not taken too seriously by fat-cat private landlords or profit hungry employers. These real-life Scrooges of the 21st century see throwing a family out of their home a simple matter of good business.
And it's not just those whose circumstances mean they can't afford to pay the rent that face bailiffs. A growing number - estimated at 218,000 in the last year - are threatened with what have been termed 'revenge evictions'.
These refer to cases where tenants are booted out of their homes for having the temerity to draw attention to the need for repairs and improvements. The thousands of pounds landlords charge a month apparently doesn't entitle tenants to demand basic standards of safety and dignity.
But this year, the flurry of media stories highlighting the issue of Christmas homelessness (in reality, a problem all year around), have had a somewhat different flavour to usual. The reason is that 2014 has seen a wave of housing campaigns led by working class people fighting for their right to a decent home.
From the heroic Focus E15 mums, whose determined campaign has forced Newham's Labour-run council to pledge to re-open some (perfectly good but disused) social housing, albeit on short-term leases; to the New Era estate campaigners defiantly taking on an American corporate giant and staying-put. It's clear that a mood to resist this nightmare is growing.
These campaigns have given the lie to the notion that the 'housing crisis' is a simple and unchallengeable fact of life. Their example can act as a spur to others to get organised and fight for the right to genuinely affordable, good quality housing.
We live in a country 'boasting' over 100 billionaires, but in which hundreds of thousands find that most basic of human needs - housing - unmet. This is the sick logic of the capitalist system - where profit trumps all.
The Socialist Party says: cap rents not benefits; a mass programme of council house building; nationalise the banks and giant corporations and use their enormous profits to invest in housing, as part of a democratic plan of production to meet the needs of all.
In The Socialist 10 December 2014:
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