Nasser Baston reports on the campaign to halt the demolition and mothballing of council properties across London.
Across London we see councils continuing to demolish properties fit for human habitation, or board them up and send the residents packing. Yet the number of homeless and consequent cost of temporary accommodation continues to rise.
In the last month demonstrations across London have highlighted demolitions and boarding-up and called for a change of policy. In Southwark campaigners stood outside Maydew House in Rotherhithe to highlight the 5-year 'mothballing' of the block.
There were similar scenes in Stratford when Focus E15 marched from a homeless hostel, where whole families have been forced to isolate in one room during the Coronavirus pandemic, to a massive empty block in Carpenters Road.
In Haringey, Defend Council Housing is focusing on Council proposals to demolish sound council property. The paradoxical justification for these demolitions is the council’s laudable desire to build 1,000 council homes. Yet every time councils agree redevelopments with private partners, there is a net loss of housing let at council rents. Demolition Watch claim "30,000 homes have undergone regeneration schemes in the past decade. While the total number of homes on those estates has doubled, there has been a net loss of over 8,000 socially rented homes". 
As new developments multiply across the capital, we should take stock. Most units in these new developments are destined for the private market. Some will end up being kept empty as so-called wealth investments, removing them from the housing stock.  These 'buy to leave' properties were condemned as 'speculative vacancies' by the recently convened Global Empty Homes Network.
While demolition and mothballing are put on pause during the current pandemic, we should consider the strategy of Spain’s Balearics Regional Government. They have targeted the long term empty properties of large-scale landlords. Under new laws uncooperative landlords can have their properties expropriated for use by the Regional Government at a legally fixed price, for a period of seven years. As we recently reported these can then be used by the regional administration to house those in need of homes.
With London responsible for two thirds of the families in Temporary Accommodation across England, its time for a re-think.