Estate Watch: A new resource for communities going through estate demolition

Over 35,000 homes on London council estates are earmarked for demolition.

Launching today, Estate Watch is a new website seeking to ensure tenants and residents have the information, tools and resources to fight their corner.

Click here to visit the site and explore the map.

As of 2018, councils and housing associations seeking Mayoral funding to knock down and replace their existing stock with more than 150 new homes must first seek majority resident support through a ballot.

Even so, 44 such schemes across London have been exempted and the Mayor appears to be overlooking landlords conducting ballots on terms that go against his guidance. This despite the Mayor’s Estate Regeneration Guidance, which was supposed to give council tenants and leaseholders a better deal.

Tenants must be fully informed and have meaningful choices before we get to a ballot. We’ve joined with Just Space to establish Estate Watch in part because of concerns that that is not happening.

The new website provides tenants with key facts, tools and case studies to fight their corner and to try to engage on more equal terms in discussion about the future of their homes and communities.

This includes research by academics at University of Leicester (UOL) and Kings College London (KCL) showing that long term uncertainty, depression and displacement were common experiences among both tenants and leaseholders undergoing demolition.

To sign up for Estate Watch mailing list updates, click here and scroll down.

#EstateWatch Online Conversation

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE

To mark the launch of the website, we are encouraging tenants and leaseholders who are going through or have been through demolition to share their experiences on Twitter using the hashtag #EstateWatch

How has your life been affected?

Did you feel listened to?

Were you offered a meaningful alternative to demolition?

Wednesday 24th June @ 10am Q&A WITH LORETTA LEES 

From 10am to 11am next Wednesday, we’ll be hosting a live Twitter Q&A session with Loretta Lees, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Leicester and lead researcher on regeneration and gentrification. Please join us then using the hashtag #EstateWatch @LorettaCLees and @londontenants or @justspace7

Not on Twitter but got a question for Loretta? Email zoe-comms@londontenants.org with your question beforehand and we will put it to her on your behalf.

How you can help

It’s rare for councils and housing associations to provide their tenants and residents with the full facts about demolition, so it’s important that we share that information ourselves.

Do you live on or near a council estate threatened with demolition or know someone who does? Please forward on this email or share a link to the website on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #EstateWatch.

Have we missed something? Estate Watch is an ongoing project with limited resources. Please help us keep the website up to date by emailing info@estatewatch.london with updates or corrections if you spot a gap.

Please forward this email to your neighbours, friends and contacts.

Thank you.

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London Tenants Federation Spring newsletter: Tenants’ organisations responding to Coronavirus and new survey deadlines

Welcome to our Spring Newsletter

We hope you and your family, friends and neighbours are safe and well.

These are very difficult and uncertain times. Social housing tenants are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its repercussions for our daily lives.

It has been heartwarming to see tenant representatives in London going above and beyond to help, whether in essential jobs or through local efforts to support vulnerable neighbours and keep spirits up.

We’ve written a blog about how one of our members, Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations (SGTO), has adapted to the new circumstances; keeping tenants involved in local democracy and linking Tenants and Residents Associations together with some of the many mutual aid groups that have sprung up to help neighbours during the pandemic. Read more here.

Of course, Coronavirus and the lockdown have made it harder for some tenant reps to help or take part as they might normally. We hope you are taking this time to be kind to yourselves. Your health and wellbeing are most important.

We’ve produced a list of links and information about Coronavirus, some essential and some more fun. Please feel free to share this with your neighbours and suggest additions.

LTF’s response to Coronavirus

Alongside other renters’ groups, our call for an eviction ban was picked up by the Mayor of London and within the week an eviction ban was announced by the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, the government’s support for those in housing need still leaves many people vulnerable.

On 19th March we made this statement calling on the government to provide better support: to homeless households; to tenants, leaseholders and shared owners who may struggle to meet housing costs; and to households who are overcrowded or in unsuitable accommodation.

We also worked with fellow members of the London Housing Panel to put out this statement calling for greater support to those in housing need.

We’d love to hear from you

How has your tenants’ group or organisation been affected by COVID-19?

Email info@londontenants.org

Extended survey deadlines

LTF Survey: What are your priorities as a tenants’ organisation?

New deadline 11th May 2020

Please take a moment to complete this survey to help us develop upcoming events and resources for TRAs, TMOs and Co-ops across London. Click here to take the survey.

The government’s First Homes consultation closes on 1 May

There is no evidence of need for yet another form of subsidised low cost home ownership in London. The evidence, by far, is that social rented homes are what is needed. We’ve shared LTF’s response to the consultation. Please feel free to use and adapt it.

New deadline 11.45pm on 1 May 2020

Responses can be sent to FirstHomes@communities.gov.uk

Working from home during the lockdown? 

We’ve been contacted by Dr Frances Holliss at Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design. She is examining the impact of compulsory home-based work as a result of COVID-19 on people with a range of living situations. She is interested in how those with less space and no garden, perhaps those affected by the Bedroom Tax, are managing during the lockdown. Email f.holliss@londonmet.ac.uk with a photo or description.

Other news

The UK Housing Review was published this month, and it shatters the myth that social housing is the most subsidised tenure in England.

Measures to stimulate homeownership and the private market in England amount to £53bn. That is 75% of the government’s planned housing investment for 2019/20 to 2023/24.. Only 25% was set aside for affordable homes (social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership). Note: these figures pre-date the recent Budget.

In contrast, government support for affordable homes in Wales is 74% of total investment, in Scotland 84% and in Northern Ireland 100%.

Other statistics that stood out were:

  • There were more than 170,000 families and individuals across Great Britain experiencing ‘core homelessness’ on a typical night in 2017. Core homelessness includes: rough sleeping, sleeping in cars, etc; squatting, in hostels, refuges and shelters; in unsuitable temporary accommodation (e.g. B&B), and ‘sofa-surfing’
  • Rates of core homelessness were almost identical in Scotland and England in 2010 but have since diverged markedly – steadily worsening in the latter
  • Grant for new build affordable housing has increased in England, but only from 7% of development costs in 2017 to 11% in 2019.
  • Over the seven years April 2012-19, the net loss of social rented stock in England reached 181,000 homes, despite the building of over 60,000 new social rented homes over the same period. Conversion to Affordable Rent and the Right to Buy were the biggest reasons, but in London estate demolition has played a big role.

Trust for London’s Poverty Profile: 2020 was published this week. Among the key findings were:

  • After housing costs, 28% of Londoners are living in poverty
  • 76% of children in poverty in London are in working families – an increase of 8%, or 80,000 children, from five years ago.

It is troubling to think this was the picture before COVID-19 hit. In a statement on Twitter, they said “Let’s use this as a baseline to measure the impact of #COVID19 on poverty in our city & work together to create a fairer London.”

What’s been said on Twitter

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth @HousingActionSL  shared testimony from members of overcrowded families dealing with lockdown.

Inside Housing @InsideHousing reported that Newham Council moved hundreds of homeless families out of shared accommodation amid the coronavirus crisis. This came not long after we highlighted the 300+ empty homes on the Carpenter’s Estate.

Pete Apps at Inside Housing @PeteApps reported that “for a couple of years now, the government has been refusing to test a commonly used cladding system (HPL + phenolic insulation). The test was just done privately and it failed in under nine minutes”

Trust for London @trustforlondon shared this article by Lynsey Hanley: Lockdown has laid bare Britain’s class divide

Somerton House Residents’ Association @SomertonHouseRA shared some beautiful photos of the flowers in their entrance green: jasmine, tulips and daffodils.

D’Eynsford TMO in Camberwell @Deynsford were among many tenant-run organisations across London to share photos of some of the good work being done to help neighbours during the pandemic.

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Are tenants adequately involved in decisions that affect their homes?

London Tenants Federation E-bulletin June 2018

www.londontenants.org  –  www.facebook.com/londontenants/  –  @londontenants

Are tenants adequately involved in decisions that affect their homes?

London Assembly Housing Committee Post-Grenfell Investigation

Email your comments or evidence to the committee by 29 June

Through discussion with the chair of the London Assembly Housing Committee, Sian Berry AM, it was agreed that LTF would support the committee’s investigation into social housing tenants’ involvement in decision-making about their homes, post-Grenfell, by facilitating a meeting of social housing tenant representatives with the committee.

Since the Grenfell tower fire, last year, LTF has argued that as part of efforts to prevent such a tragedy occurring again, there must be change in policy and practice around participation of tenants in decision-making about their homes – to ensure our voices are properly heard.

For some time, we have seen the gradual loss of democratic and accountable tenant participation processes, including removal of funding from an increasing number of council tenant federations or organisations that bring together elected tenant and resident representatives around borough-wide issues. Instead, consumerist models that were more common in the housing association sector are being gradually adopted across social landlords. Such models include a wide range of panels, forums and mystery shopping, through which tenants (sometimes selected) might engage, but without a remit to couch the views of others, or to feed back to them. Necessarily many tenants lack trust in these processes, resulting in disengagement and ultimately disempowerment.

LTF, alongside other groups that we have contacts with – including Camden Housing Association Tenants Forum, Genesis Residents, London Federation of Housing Co-operatives and Race on the Agenda, presented concerns to the meeting, which also facilitated an open mic session. Together we agreed a list of ‘asks’ of the London Mayor.

This link provides information about the investigation including the committee’s key topics and, towards the bottom of the page, a link to a full recording of the meeting, held on 24 May.

While the London Assembly doesn’t have policy-making powers, it has a role in scrutinising the Mayor. Its investigations can put pressure on the Mayor and ultimately contribute to policy changes.

There are opportunities for tenants and residents to submit written comments or evidence to the committee and we encourage you, your TRA, TMO, Co-operatives and / or wider networks to do so, by emailing housingcommittee@london.gov.uk by 29 June.

We have attached an document that highlights our key asks of the London Mayor and some of the issues that we discussed with the other groups that we worked with, in preparing for the London Assembly meeting.

Please also find links here to a briefing on TRAs (with a case study), on TMOs (with case study) and Co-operatives that we produced for the London Assembly Housing Committee members, a comment piece from LTF delegates published in Inside Housing and an article published in the Times which reported on the London Assembly Housing Committee meeting.

Response to Mayor’s consultation on estate regeneration ballots – deadline 10.04.18

To LTF members, friends and contacts,

Please find attached key points that were agreed at an LTF special meeting on 21st March regarding the Mayor’s consultation on estate regeneration ballots.

key points from LTF special meeting 21st March

The consultation has been extended to Tuesday 10th April, so if you haven’t yet made a response yet, please do so – as the more responses the GLA receives the better.

You are very welcome to use the attached to support in writing your own response, as it is or amended as you see fit, perhaps with some of your own local knowledge or experience added.

The consultation document (16 pages) is here.

Email your responses to –  ballotsconsultation@london.gov.uk

Best wishes

Sharon Hayward

Co-ordinator

London Tenants Federation

LTF special meeting Wednesday 21st March 11am

Re the Mayor’s consultation on estate regen ballots

To:  LTF friends and contacts  

LTF is holding a meeting for members, friends and contacts on the Mayor’s consultation on estate regeneration ballots on 21st March at Ampthill Square Tenants Hall, Barnby Street, London NW1 2RS.

Please find attached a short LTF briefing on the Mayor’s consultation document.  It includes a summary of the consultation document, the GLA’s consultation questions and also (inserted and highlighted in yellow) some comments that LTF has made previously in other consultation responses, where appropriate.

Discussion at the meeting will feed into the LTF’s response to consultation and the drawing together of some key bullet points that we hope will support LTF members, friends and contact in making their own responses to the consultation.

If you are unable to attend the meeting but have any comments that you would like included in the discussion, please forward to me.

Best wishes

Sharon Hayward

Co-ordinator

London Tenants Federation