Public Housing Meeting, Tuesday 22nd April
THE MEETING THEY TRIED TO BAN! HOUSING IS IN CRISIS: WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
Public Meeting, Speakers and Discussion: 7-9pm, Tuesday 22nd April, St. Mungo’s Academy, 235 Crownpoint Road, Bridgeton, Glasgow, G40 2RA. All welcome!
The Commonwealth Games 2014 and the Clyde Gateway regeneration project promise a supply of new housing in the East End, but do their figures stack up? We think that the (shelved) plan to blow up the Red Road flats in a live stream to a global audience at the opening ceremony was no mere anomaly. It was a precise indication of the City Council’s contempt for social housing.
Initially 1,400 homes were promised on the Games village site, but this figure has now been reduced to 700 homes. Only 300 of these homes have been allocated for ‘social rent’ yet we estimate around 3,000 people have been removed from the Dalmarnock area in the recent past through disinvestment and demolition. The ‘new community’ on the Clyde is obviously displacing the old one rather than adding to it.
The Clyde Gateway regeneration project initially promised 10,000 homes. But when we pressed them they admitted that the figure had been ‘made up’ to obtain government grant funding, and that they had no idea whether they would be private or social tenure. Now, there is no mention of the 10,000 figure on their publicity materials at all, suggesting the old truth that the promises attached to large-scale regeneration projects tend to be ‘codswallop’.
None of this should come as a surprise. UK and Scottish policy on housing has been dominated by the eradication of social housing. The stock transfer of all Glasgow’s council housing to Glasgow Housing Association in 2003 was probably the largest public privatisation project in Europe. Since then, massive budget cuts for Housing Associations and the drive towards the private market have drastically reduced the amount of social housing. Between 1991 and 2008, private sector housing in the city grew by around 60,000 homes, while social housing was reduced by roughly the same amount. The trend towards housing privatisation is only accelerating. See our housing primer for more evidence.
What does all this mean?
Gentrification. Rent is killing us. Half of people’s disposable income is taken up by rent in the UK. Welfare cuts mean that rent can no longer be covered by the unemployed. Not only poor people, but almost everyone struggles to pay the rent and pay off mortgages. The tyranny of debt reigns everywhere. We have no control over the way we house ourselves while property speculators and landlords turn huge profits.
What can we do about it?
(1) We can start discussing the housing crisis so that we have a clear understanding of the problem. The invited speakers will describe in detail the housing situation in the East End, and more generally in Glasgow, Scotland and the UK. They will discuss some of the problems that face the housing movement and potential ways to overcome these problems drawing on successful examples. By blocking our late meeting in Bridgeton, they have tried to shut down the legitimate grievances of local people. All welcome in the East End and beyond who want to discuss the housing crisis.
(2) We can begin to organise together. The lesson from other large-scale regeneration events is that benefits will only come to local populations when they are organised. They will not drop from the sky – despite the usual promises. We want to get involved with other people fighting housing campaigns and those who want to start that fight.
Sarah Glynn: housing activist and author of ‘Where the Other Half Lives: Lower Income Housing in a Neoliberal World’/Susan Fitzpatrick and Neil Gray: Glasgow Games Monitor 2014/More to follow…
Organised by: Glasgow Games Monitor 2014