In March 2023, we reported on a new activist group called Housing Rebellion. Now, it will be making itself known to even more people on Saturday 8 July when it takes part in a national Day of Action. The event seeks to draw attention to the housing crisis and the many issues around it.
The Canary wrote of Housing Rebellion in March:
Housing Rebellion is a new offshoot of Extinction Rebellion (XR). The group exists to highlight the fact that many of the anti-tenant policies that landlords get away with are also having an enormous impact on the environment.
Now, and in a press release for the upcoming action, it states:
On Saturday July 8th 2023, residents and housing campaigners across the UK are organising a day of local actions and protests, to highlight the links between the climate crisis and the UK’s broken housing system.
Groups as far apart as Glasgow, Cornwall, and Birmingham will be demanding an end to the injustice, environmental destruction and greed that together fuel our housing crisis.
There are currently over 250,000 long-term empty homes in the UK which the group says “could be used to provide secure” accommodation.
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Housing: linked to environmental justice
Besides solving the issue of homelessness, it’s argued that this would be the best option for the environment. Backing this point up, Housing Rebellion highlights a quote from Carl Elefante (former president of the American Institute of Architects):
The greenest building is the one that already exists.
A report by the US National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2016 found, through a series of case studies, that ‘it takes between 10 and 80 years for a new building that is 30 per cent more efficient than an average-performing existing building to overcome, through efficient operations, the negative climate change impacts related to the construction process’.
The report concluded that ‘reusing an existing building and upgrading it to be as efficient as possible is almost always the best choice regardless of building type and climate’.
Housing Rebellion has further highlighted what it refers to as the “root causes of housing and environmental injustice”:
The Day of Action will be drawing attention to the social and environmental impact of profit-driven development, and campaigners are demanding that everyone have access to secure, affordable, warm, dry homes that are energy efficient.
Protests and actions will be focusing on the root causes of housing and environmental injustice in the UK, including :
- High housing costs – mortgages, rents, service charges and energy bills – across all sectors.
- A private rental market stacked in favour of landlords, with no requirement to insulate or reduce energy bills without also increasing people’s rents.
- Over-development, including destruction of green spaces, to build unaffordable new private housing, while social housing numbers are diminished.
- Council housing – our most affordable form of social housing – needlessly being destroyed in catastrophic social cleansing/demolition schemes.
- Disrepair, damp, and mould plaguing all sectors of UK housing, with no funding provided by government, or required from landlords, to raise standards on energy efficiency or fire safety. Meanwhile, the UK has some of the most poorly insulated housing in Europe.
- Perverse tax incentives diverting much needed housing to be Air B&Bs or holiday homes.
Other groups involved in organising the Day of Action include:
- Architects Climate Action Network
- Disabled People Against Cuts
- First Not Second Homes
- Fuel Poverty Action
- Homes For All
- Radical Housing Network
- Trade union and estate-based campaigns such as Greenwich and Bexley Trades Union Council and Save Central Hill Estate and Wyndford Residents Union.
Housing Rebellion describes London as “a key battleground, with residents fighting to save their communities, battling against councils, housing associations and developers, all trying to capitalise on land values”. It adds that unnecessary “demolition is causing untold damage to the climate, as well as shrinking the supply of social housing”. The group notes:
Why is London blighted with such high levels of homelessness, alongside so much unnecessary demolition, with so many thousands of homes sitting empty?
Crisis estimates there will be 300,000 homeless people in the UK every night this year. Millions more are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of housing whether that’s rents, mortgages or energy bills.
Meanwhile, there are over 250,000 long-term empty homes in the UK which could be used to provide secure housing.
Action will take place in several areas. These include Bexley, Islington, Haringey, Kensington, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Merton, and Southwark. Housing Rebellion provides examples of the problems faced by these areas, including Lambeth:
Lambeth Council are pressing on with controversial demolition projects as part of their failed ‘Homes for Lambeth’ scheme, in spite of Sir Bob Kerslake’s damning 2022 report into the chronic levels of mismanagement and waste involved. Demolition and rebuilding here will lead to a loss of social housing.
On Central Hill Estate 80-100 properties are sitting empty.
Lambeth are spending at least £14 million on demolishing and rebuilding one block, which was supposed to be the first of many. According to Central Hill resident Sabine: “The council could have used that £14 million to refurbish and retrofit 80 of the empty properties here – that’s £175,000 per property – a huge amount. Then they’d have 80 council flats forever, which could house families in need and generate income for the council. What they’re doing now makes no sense whatsoever.”
Housing Rebellion has “produced an action pack about the link between housing and environmental issues and the types of actions people can take”.
Planned actions for 8 July include:
- Glasgow (Wyndford Estate green area, Glasgow G20 8EZ from 12pm until late).
- Lambeth (2.30pm – 5pm Broadstone House, South Lambeth Estate, SW8 1AD).
- Bexley (1pm to 3pm Church of the Cross, Lensbury Way, London SE2 9UE).
- Southwark (Assembling 11am outside E&C leisure centre, St Mary’s Churchyard, Newington Butts, SE1 6SQ).
- Islington (11.30am Wellington Mews, Roman Way N7 5SQ).
- St. Ives, Cornwall (St Ives Harbour from 1pm).
- Harlow (protest at 2pm, Obelisk, Broadwalk, Harlow town centre).
- Folkestone (Campaigners in Folkestone are supporting a new play called Fleecehold at The Green Room, The Grand, The Leas, Folkestone, Kent from 7pm followed by a Q&A about leasehold with the NLC founders. Fleecehold is a dark political comedy exploring the unfair and exploitative power imbalance affecting 10 million leaseholders including those trapped by the cladding scandal).
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