Created: Tuesday, 27 June 2017 10:43
Written by Barnaby Philips
On Saturday 24 June, the North East branch of the Revolutionary Communist Group hosted a successful speak out in Newcastle city centre to demand housing that is habitable, safe and affordable for working class people.
Our demands were for ending forced room sharing in migrant housing, for more housing at social rent in Newcastle, and for an end to the racist ‘right to rent’ scheme, which discriminates against black and migrant people seeking to rent accommodation. We were joined by local housing campaigners who live in Your Homes Newcastle accommodation, a property management service which administers council housing.
Despite rules introduced in 2007 that stated that all tower blocks had to have sprinklers, residents of YHN are still awaiting their installation in their homes. They have also raised concerns about fire doors that are unfit for use, and the lack of transparency on what materials were used to clad and insulate their property. These tenants have raised their concerns before, but on every occasion have been ignored by both YHN and the local Labour council. A Facebook group to facilitate tenants’ campaigns can be found here. A petition demanding the installation of fire sprinkler systems can be signed here.
The RCG's open-mic was incredibly popular, with local people taking the opportunity to share their experiences of substandard housing in Newcastle, the discrimination against migrants, disabled people and the working class within housing allocation and the housing market, and the need for organisation and direct action to ensure rights to decent housing. In a city with a Labour majority council (which has ruthlessly imposed austerity) and a clear slate of Labour MPs, it was painfully obvious to everyone that relying on any capitalist party to sort out the housing crisis is an exercise in futility. It was shown again and again on the microphone that the housing crisis is a symptom of the capitalist crisis, as the bourgeoisie attempt to make up for their shrinking profits by squeezing more and more rent from tenants for increasingly poor and unsafe housing. As such, only the working class as an organised force fighting to end capitalism can stand any chance of solving the housing crisis.
Videos from the speak-out can be seen here and here.