Campaign volunteer Nasser Baston toured Hackney and Shoreditch with the Labour Homelessness Campaign exploring empty homes, 'PSPOs' and the relationship between the two

Nasser reports on what he found below,

Homeless people sleeping in the shadow of luxury blocks is a shocking indictment of failure to deal with the housing crisis. Less visible is that tragically many local authorities are now using Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) which drive the homeless from 'gentrified areas', rather than provide adequate accommodation.

Last week the Labour Homelessness Campaign rallied housing activists at Avantgarde Tower, a chronically under-occupied luxury block at the Shoreditch end of Bethnal Green Road. Glyn Robbins from campaign organisation Homes For All said local campaigners had opposed the development of Avantgarde, highlighting the high prices of private flats, and dearth of social housing associated with the development.

The car park immediately behind the tower, is the subject of a PSPO, prohibiting its use by homeless people. This is part of the controversial 10 acre Bishopsgate Goods Yard Site - currently exciting significant opposition from local campaigners. Local campaigner Jonathan Moberly explained to us that developers are proposing to build 500 residential units on the site, of which only 60-90 are slated for low cost rental.

Activists from No Fixed Abode then led us to further sites, at Haggerston Orchard and London Fields, where PSPOs had also been served, restricting the use of these open spaces for homeless people. The tour culminated at Shuttleworth Hostel, where we found homeless people living under a demeaning and restrictive regime. The implied policy seems to be keep the homeless out of site and out of mind, while more luxury towers are built.

5 minutes walk from Shuttleworth House, Hackney council are considering a proposal to build 530 homes, including tower blocks as high as 19-storeys. Local campaigners Morning Lane People’s Space say the proposals include NO council housing, and only 20% 'affordable' which includes shared ownership.

Earlier this year Action on Empty Homes researchers determined that Hackney had 1% of homes long-term empty (over 1,150 homes), while another 700 plus are recorded as 'second homes'. On top of this Airbnb listed 3,400 homes for short-term let. This means around 2,000 homes in Hackney we know have no permanent residents in the midst of a housing crisis; and thousands more with a question mark over their status or use as homes at all!