Over 85 people attended a film showing and discussion at the Unite community centre in Tower Hamlets last weekend to discuss the growing housing crisis in the borough, reports Monowar Badrudduza, Unite community activist.
Tower Hamlets has 23,000 families on the council’s housing waiting list. It also has among the highest private sector rents in London and an increasingly exclusive housing market.
A recent study by the Toynbee Hall Welfare Reform Taskforce found that 80% of letting agents will not accept a tenant claiming housing benefit, over 60% only accept “professionals, workers or the private sector” and £3,506 is the average up-front payment required by prospective tenants!
Residents expressed concern that government policies are creating a form of ‘social cleaning’ with rising rents forcing poorer families increasingly to live outside the borough.
Speakers emphasized the importance of council and private tenants campaigning together to increase the quantity and quality of housing for all.
The event was also addressed by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, who had earlier given a commitment that no council tenant would be evicted from their property due to the Bedroom Tax.
This was the second film event organised at the center. Both have been very successful and one of the reasons is that they were held on a Saturday afternoon in order to make it easier for women with childcare responsibilities to attend.
It was great to see young kids making use of the center. I hope that as they see the benefits Unite community brings to their community, their involvement in the center will mark the beginning of a life-long relationship with our union.
After two hours of interesting films and lively discussion the afternoon was rounded off with some tasty Asian food!