Waltham Forest’s Housing Summit a Sham

Friday’s Housing Summit held at Waltham Forest Town Hall was glossy materials and slick presentations which boiled down to a series of sales pitches. “Choose my company to be the council’s partner to build homes” or “Let my outfit profit from your residents’ needs” was the real motive for holding and attending the event.

Linda Taaffe of Waltham Forest Trades Council intervened at the summit saying: “These private companies are not addressing the needs of the thousands of people registered in housing need, or even those who live in need but don’t see any point in registering. The market will not solve the problems. Housing is a social need. We need thousands of council homes at social rent.

This was met with a round of applause from those present, but with personal derogatory remarks from the council leader.

The event was attended by approximately two hundred people involved in housing. Before the start many agreed that the system was broken. However, they were there, unfortunately not for genuine dialogue, but in reality to give an aura of legitimacy to the tiny, but most important, group – a gang of property developers who operate under the more appealing names “housing associations” with upbeat titles, who have a vision to find “innovative solutions” to so-called intractable problems i.e. landlords charging rents too high and bosses paying wages too low!

G15 a massive company with over half a million homes was proud that 100% of its rents go into new homes. So tenants not only pay directly for their own homes, but also indirectly for the homes of others! Pocket Living a company claiming a social conscience has carved itself a niche in the market to produce “compact living” at a so-called discount for single professionals. Then there was Keepmoat Regeneration, Future of London and others.

There was a nod in the direction of recognizing the plight of young people but discussion around a piece of research which concluded that what young people needed was “more information about their options” fell way short of doing anything positive – and the council response was jaw-droppingly inane with ideas about “home-sharing” – living in spare rooms, or about housing with shared facilities!

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