Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Solving London's Housing Crisis: "Abolish right-to-buy" - Cris Claridge

Cris Claridge, chair of Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

Cris Claridge has been a council tenant for some 40 years.
“I was privileged to get a council property when I was a homeless single parent,” says Claridge.
“I still live in a council house and even have a garden.”

Claridge chairs the Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations.
She recalls how Margaret Thatcher’s ‘right-to-buy’ policy led to the loss of two million council homes nationally.
Absentee landlords now own half of ‘right-to-buy’ ex-council homes in Southwark, says Claridge.
“Landlords charge £350 per week rent for an identical house to mine down my road,” adds Claridge.

Claridge says the housing crisis can be turned around.
“We must stop developers and profiteers from building high-cost housing for absentee buyers who treat it as an investment rather than as a home,” says Claridge.

“We must also campaign to abolish the right-to-buy,” she adds.
“We need newly built homes protected from right-to-buy.
“There’s no point Southwark Council building 11,000 new council homes if they can be sold later.”

Council estates and tenants are unfairly portrayed.
People who buy their council homes often see themselves as homeowners and as “a breed apart”, says Claridge. 
“In my experience, tenants make the biggest positive contributions to life on an estate.”

Claridge also insists on rent controls.
“My neighbours in their late seventies look after their two young grandchildren because the parents work full-time to pay £1,000 rent per month,” says Claridge.
“Rents must be set at levels so people can afford to live.
“Finally, we must stop our politicians and senior council officers from colluding with developers to dispose of our council homes.”

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, February 2015.

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