The following email to Lambeth councillors helps clarify some of the deliberate myths spread about ‘shortlife’ housing co-ops in Lambeth:
From: Lambeth United <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 27 January 2014 01:19:18 GMT
Subject: for information, re: ‘shortlife’
In order that you can appreciate the context of the ongoing ‘shortlife’ housing co-op evictions issue, we would like to draw your attention to the following myths:
1. ‘Shortlifers’ always knew it was temporary
In the 1980s and 1990s various initiatives were advanced that would have given ‘shortlife’ residents permanency under social housing schemes. Lambeth administrations pulled away from these on both occasions.
2. ‘Shortlifers’ didn’t pay rent
At no point since the establishment of the housing co-ops did Lambeth Council seek any financial arrangements with them.
This was because the council did not want to make us tenants – something that some councillors now say should have happened, including Tulse Hill councillor Mary Atkins who said this at her by-election hustings last year.
In the vacuum that was created by Lambeth Council’s rejection of any responsibility, the co-ops charged their own rent and/or membership fees, and individual members spent money on repairs to their own houses.
Even where communities put the onus on the individual’s repairs a central pot would still be used for large-scale renovations, especially if the resident was not financially able to carry them out themselves.
In most of these communities the work that was done was carried out by the people who lived on the same street, as many of them were skilled workers.
These are the kinds of communities Lambeth should be protecting not disbanding.
Lambeth Council have not meaningfully offered the chance for anyone to become their tenants and pay rent – though this is part of the solution that has been brought by Lambeth United Housing Co-operative to the council on numerous occasions in the last few years.
Finally, so concerned are the council about anything that could be construed as rent they have even refused the payment of a legal charge that they themselves have concocted! A spurious ‘use and occupation’ charge that is designed to coerce people from their homes was set by Lambeth and their lawyers, but when a judge in one case suggested a defendant pay it by installments, Lambeth’s representatives jumped out of their seats to decline this!
Ultimately, the current policy means social housing is being sold off, the waiting list is lengthened and no new houses are being built as a result of it.
A social housing solution has been advanced three times and is still on the table.
We hope that you will help the council return to negotiations.
Lambeth United Housing Co-operative