Defend council housing? Discussion

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rebel_lion
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Dec 13 2005 14:53
Defend council housing? Discussion

Admin edit - split from this thread:

http://libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=85598

personally i have mixed feelings about council housing... at the basic level it's still a part of govt/bureaucracy, and on an instinctive level i'd say i'd prefer an anarchist housing strategy focusing on squatting and/or housing co-ops, but i'd still unreservedly jump to defend council housing against gentrification and/or private landlord profiteer parasites...

anyway would be good to put it as an agenda item on the meeting (which, this time i'll (fingers crossed) actually be able to go to...

Mike Harman
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Dec 11 2005 11:10
rebel_lion wrote:
personally i have mixed feelings about council housing... at the basic level it's still a part of govt/bureaucracy, and on an instinctive level i'd say i'd prefer an anarchist housing strategy focusing on squatting and/or housing co-ops,

Sorry to jump into the Midlands forum. rebel_lion, would you prefer it if the NHS was based on squatting and health co-ops? If not, why not?

Quote:

but i'd still unreservedly jump to defend council housing against gentrification and/or private landlord profiteer parasites...

Good, it's unlikely that there'll be a movement to Defend Council Housing against mass squatting and housing co-ops, because they'll all be in the hands of private landlord within a few years, so I doubt there'll be much of a conflict.

Do you have any examples of successful housing co-ops? One, Clays Lane in Stratford, was recently converted to a housing association so they could evict them all next year in time for the olympics.

I'd like to see groups involved in DCH or similar making links with private sector tenants (who are often in a much worse situation than council tenants) and broadening the issue out to how housing affects the working class in general rather than a specific sector, but the least argument I'd use against it is because it's 'still a part of govt/bureaucracy' - the govt/bureaucracy clearly don't want it to be any more which is why it's being sold off!

Good luck at the meeting anyway.

Admin edit - WeTheYouth then responded:

WeTheYouth wrote:
Ditto.

Housing associations increase rent rapidly and are less accountable when it comes to doing repairs on the properties.

rebel_lion
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Dec 11 2005 19:51
Catch wrote:
Sorry to jump into the Midlands forum. rebel_lion, would you prefer it if the NHS was based on squatting and health co-ops? If not, why not?

that's really a very silly "analogy", and you know it is (for a start, i fail to see what "squatting" in a health context could even mean)... but actually, i would prefer a localist, DIY approach to health rather than dependence on the state and/or pharmaceutical corporations, and know people who are actively working towards that (sadly atm only in the "alternative"/"therapy" side of health stuff yet, rather than the drugs and operations side, but ppl are working to break down that dichotomy).

do you seriously think that after the abolition of the state and devolution of all power to local communities (assuming as an anarchist that's what you want) you could still maintain a nationwide-scale organised "NHS"? confused

Quote:

Good, it's unlikely that there'll be a movement to Defend Council Housing against mass squatting and housing co-ops, because they'll all be in the hands of private landlord within a few years, so I doubt there'll be much of a conflict.

did u see some of the comments in various places about St Agnes Place? "defend council housing against mass squatting" was the exact conflict that was being quite successfully created... sad

Quote:
Do you have any examples of successful housing co-ops?

fucking loads - check the members directory of www.radicalroutes.org.uk for instance - there are successful housing co-ops in Birmingham, Manchester, Coventry, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Northampton, Nottingham and several other towns and cities just within the Radical routes network, and many others (rural and urban) who for one reason or other aren't members of it. ok not all are entirely anarchist, and some have slightly dodgy "ethical" stipulations for membership, and of course like any association of human beings they can suffer from disputes and/or disorganisation, but all of them IMO are more successful in terms of ecological sustainability, autonomous control of housing and community integration than any other ownership structure i can think of...

Quote:
One, Clays Lane in Stratford, was recently converted to a housing association so they could evict them all next year in time for the olympics.

well, obviously that sucks - i'd like to hear more about that, got a link? was it the housing co-op deciding to sell out itself, or was this forced by local govt/business collaboration?

Quote:
I'd like to see groups involved in DCH or similar making links with private sector tenants (who are often in a much worse situation than council tenants) and broadening the issue out to how housing affects the working class in general rather than a specific sector, but the least argument I'd use against it is because it's 'still a part of govt/bureaucracy' - the govt/bureaucracy clearly don't want it to be any more which is why it's being sold off!

Good luck at the meeting anyway.

Fully agreed with the first aim (esp as a very precarious current private tenant myself) - but re the second, i'd prob argue that a) govt/bureaucracy isn't actually as distinct from big business as it looks or as arguments like that presuppose it to be, and b) that proves it *is* part of the problem - because govt *can* sell it off against the wishes of its tenants, whereas if housing was directly and cooperatively controlled by tenants themselves, it wouldn't be...

maybe this discussion ought to be in the thought/organise rather than midlands forum?

Vaneigemappreci...
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Dec 11 2005 21:48
Quote:
do you seriously think that after the abolition of the state and devolution of all power to local communities (assuming as an anarchist that's what you want) you could still maintain a nationwide-scale organised "NHS"?

what would happen with health care in a society based on direct democracy?

WeTheYouth
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Dec 12 2005 13:37
Quote:
do you seriously think that after the abolition of the state and devolution of all power to local communities (assuming as an anarchist that's what you want) you could still maintain a nationwide-scale organised "NHS"?

Yes. It would be a great defeat of the revolution if healthcare was not drastically improved on a nationwide/global scale. Localism is all well and good and putting healthcare in the hands of the local community is brilliant but those community exist as part of a wider community which in turn will have to cooperate in a federalised system, for healthcare, power, production, education, defence etc.

Quote:
fucking loads - check the members directory of www.radicalroutes.org.uk for instance - there are successful housing co-ops in Birmingham, Manchester, Coventry, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Northampton, Nottingham and several other towns and cities just within the Radical routes network, and many others (rural and urban) who for one reason or other aren't members of it. ok not all are entirely anarchist, and some have slightly dodgy "ethical" stipulations for membership, and of course like any association of human beings they can suffer from disputes and/or disorganisation, but all of them IMO are more successful in terms of ecological sustainability, autonomous control of housing and community integration than any other ownership structure i can think of...

Dude these are all positive things, but is it a threat to the status quo, or is it a safe haven for opponents of the current system? No matter how succesfull a coop can be, it is not a serious threat is it?

Mike Harman
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Dec 12 2005 20:47
rebel_lion wrote:
that's really a very silly "analogy", and you know it is (for a start, i fail to see what "squatting" in a health context could even mean)...

Using an empty hospital? There's plenty around here.

Quote:

do you seriously think that after the abolition of the state and devolution of all power to local communities (assuming as an anarchist that's what you want) you could still maintain a nationwide-scale organised "NHS"?

Yes. There'd be no need to be nationally organised for some things, but for rare diseases I'd imagine some level of national co-ordination would be necessary. In terms of producing medical equipment, again I think you'd probably need a fairly large region to get all the raw materials, research and manufacture.

Quote:

fucking loads - check the members directory of www.radicalroutes.org.uk for instance - there are successful housing co-ops in Birmingham, Manchester, Coventry, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Northampton, Nottingham and several other towns and cities just within the Radical routes network, and many others (rural and urban) who for one reason or other aren't members of it. ok not all are entirely anarchist,

I don't see any in London at all. Doesn't make it a very viable option, especially as prices rise.

Quote:

well, obviously that sucks - i'd like to hear more about that, got a link? was it the housing co-op deciding to sell out itself, or was this forced

The latter. I don't know much about it, but their website is here: http://www.clays-lane.org.uk/

Fully agreed with the first aim (esp as a very precarious current private tenant myself) - but re the second, i'd prob argue that a) govt/bureaucracy isn't actually as distinct from big business as it looks or as arguments like that presuppose it to be, and b) that proves it *is* part of the problem - because govt *can* sell it off against the wishes of its tenants, whereas if housing was directly and cooperatively controlled by tenants themselves, it wouldn't be...

That's great. And where's the option E "directly and co-operatively controlled by tenants themselves" when they move for ALMOs or stock transfer?

I've never lived in a council house (although I've lived in an ex-council flat which I rented a room in for more than the whole flat would've cost from the council). The reason council housing exists is because there was a massive squatting movement after the Second World War and the government decided it had to do something to head it off, it's a state reform, but one that was won through mass direct action. I don't think you'll find anyone who'll argue that council housing is the best possible housing model available, and just about anyone will say it's often neglected in terms of repairs etc., but there are certain guarantees (secure tenancy, some restrictions of rent increases) compared to private renting that are worth defending.

If WTY doesn't mind I'll shift the whole thread into thought or organise maybe?

Nick Durie
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Dec 14 2005 01:21

I'm sorry but co-operatives in general usually run out of speed and become watered down in their ideas, more often than not either becoming private enterprises, or in the case of housing co-operatives get swallowed up by a housing association.

I've been involved in socialist politics for only five years and I've seen this happen on many occasions. Co-operatives are crap, and frankly it's not really on to say that what a single parent who works 8 hours a day in a casualised industry (ands that's the kind of reality a large number of people face) should do is work towards creating some kind of common land trust scheme with them and their pals or just squat their way to a housing solution is it? i don't know a single person outside of the radical milleux who would be attracted to something like that. I know many who would like to take over the running of their schemes from the authorities tho.

The only solution is to try to democratize both social and private housing through tenants and residents associations and campaigns while encouraging the growth of a more democratic social housing - e.g. achieving the handing over control of the council's housing department down to community councils etc.

magnifico
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Dec 14 2005 12:13

I live in a housing co-op - it's better than renting but we don't 'own' the house, the bank owns it really, as we would discover if we decided to stop paying the mortgage. The mortgage payments that we have to pay to this 'ethical' bank mean that my rent is much higher than it would be for a council property, and rebel_lion there's a director of one such 'ethical' bank in your town receiving vegetable deliveries from a certain co-op....he lives in a fucking mansion with seperate doorbells for 'visitors' and 'servants' angry .

Northampton SF is heavily involved in DCH, one of our members is a council tenant and does NOT want his flat sold off. I used to rent privately just up the road from him, me and my girlfriend had a flat the same size as his but the rent was TWICE as much - and we had a leaking roof for 8 months (which led to much playing of Dead Kennedy's 'Let's Lynch the Landlord', a fantastic song). I think the point I'm making is that council housing is a serious improvement to lots of people's lives which much lower rents, lower eviction rates, more likelihood of getting repairs done etc. whereas co-ops, squatting etc. are individualistic solutions which aren't options for lots of people. No-one's clamouring to set up more housing co-ops in Northampton - there is, however a 7000 waiting list for council properties and a very popular and influential DCH campaign.

Council housing may not be perfect, but I see it like Chomsky says - we know we're in a cage, but until we are strong enough to break that cage why not try and make sure it stays as big as possible? The DCH campaign is one with a lot of support amongst tenants and council workers and one which is winning battles up and down the country more than any other progressive movement i can think of - I think it's something all libertarian communists should actively support wherever possible.

And yes I would bloody well hope that there would be a national health service under libertarian communism - otherwise the standard of health care would vary enormously across the country depending on whether any given area happened to have enough doctors etc. - are you saying that you think it's impossible to coordinate a national service along libertarian lines? so how would you run a railway system then? rebel_lion i think you can guess who i am - we seem to have swapped politics - you should go back to being an anarcho-trotskyist or whatever it was you said you were when i first met you tongue wink red n black star

Mike Harman
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Dec 14 2005 12:30

speaking of DCH - what's happened to their website?

www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk/ redirects to

http://easily.co.uk/

magnifico
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Dec 14 2005 12:44
Nick Durie wrote:
I know many who would like to take over the running of their schemes from the authorities tho.

This is obviously the libertarian communist solution but we need to be careful when advocating it - councils use language much like this when advocating supposedly tenant-led housing associations, which may indeed be largely tenant-led and not particualrly exploitative, but give tenants the possibility of selling off the property or having their influence in the company reduced at some later date, which then leads to it being privately rented like anywhere else. Kind of like a collective 'right to buy'. We need to be clear that whilst tenants should be able to take over the running of their schemes they should stay publicly owned and tenants should not have the right to sell them, as they are collective property and need to be kept for future generations.

WeTheYouth
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Dec 14 2005 17:41

I think all social anarchists should be first inline to come to the defence of this council housing. If it was the privatisation of water would we resist it? Hell yes. If it was the privatisation of the rail network would we oppose it. Hell yes. Whats so different with council hopusing?

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Rob Ray
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Dec 15 2005 15:23
Catch wrote:
speaking of DCH - what's happened to their website?

www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk/ redirects to

http://easily.co.uk/

Doesn't for me...

Mike Harman
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Dec 15 2005 15:36
Saii wrote:
Catch wrote:
speaking of DCH - what's happened to their website?

www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk/ redirects to

http://easily.co.uk/

Doesn't for me...

Nor me now. Must've been fixed. smile

martinh
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Dec 15 2005 17:11
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Catch wrote:

I don't see any in London at all. Doesn't make it a very viable option, especially as prices rise.

There are a few housing co-ops in Lewisham, such as the Sanford housing co-op. There are more listed on here.

Sanford. there's a place. We had a DAM comrade move in there about 10-12 years ago and he wanted to strangle half of them after a while. AFAIK there is still at least one anarcho living there (twas a stronghold of anti-poll tax resistance!)

Definitely one for the younger comrades roll eyes

There are other housing co-ops in the area (in the 70s/early 80s Lewisham council was quite into them - as was islington I think) and we have @s living in several of them. However, most are relatively small and offer you the chance to attend lots of meetings without a lot of the advantages council tenants (and even some HA tenants) have - like succession or rehousing after relationship breakdown.

I used to be in a small housing co-op, in a shared house with my partner and 2 others, and when our relationship broke down I was effectively homeless. No council housing for single men in my situation, so I ended up with a mortgage neutral They don't generally cater for the changes in people's lives - like having kids, or getting older etc. Perhaps surprisingly, councils often do this better. There are probably a handful of really good co-ops, nearly all the co-ops in London operate in properties owned by a Housing Association.

Lewisham council is now very against tenant control and co-ops, having previously encouraged it. Now it's all "partnerships" with Housing Associations (not all of whom are bad, but they are bureaucratic and professional). Personally, I think most of the government's current housing initiatives are a disaster.

Martin

afraser
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Dec 15 2005 19:03
Magnifico wrote:
We need to be clear that whilst tenants should be able to take over the running of their schemes they should stay publicly owned and tenants should not have the right to sell them, as they are collective property and need to be kept for future generations.

Yes, and that is - Communuity Land Trusts http://www.iceclt.org/clt/cltmodel.html . San Francisco Anarchist Tom Wetzel praises them at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=5907. They typically have housing co-ops attached - but co-ops without full alienable land ownership rights.

Housing Co-operatives in the US also have the advantage - as Newyawka just pointed out in http://www.libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7266&start=22 - of loans and technical assistance from the Congressional established National Cooperative Bank. Lack of finance I think explains the tiny size of the (English) co-ops discussed in earlier posts.

Note that the word "co-operative" gets abused/confused. Housing co-ops strictly speaking are ownership co-ops. Scotland doesn't have much (or anything?) in the way of those, but does instead have many tenant management co-ops - which don't own anything, are instead semi-autonomous tenant management of areas of council housing. They can work well, although everything depends on the strength and attitude of the local tenants, worst case they can just be tame committees of council lackeys (like company unions). In Glasgow, they were all recently forced to merge into larger 'Local Housing Organisations' after transfer from Council to Housing Association ownership.

And, stop press, fantastic news - Edinburgh tenants voted today no to transfer from Council. All the more reason for us to have an alternative available, since the denunciations of that vote (a step backwards, rent rises, etc.) have been pouring out of the media this evening. I'd say, short term: Council ownership with local tenant management, longer term: community land trusts.

Nick Durie
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Dec 16 2005 00:43
Quote:
And, stop press, fantastic news - Edinburgh tenants voted today no to transfer from Council. All the more reason for us to have an alternative available, since the denunciations of that vote (a step backwards, rent rises, etc.) have been pouring out of the media this evening. I'd say, short term: Council ownership with local tenant management, longer term: community land trusts.

A monumental victory in the Scottish class struggle and a massive milestone. I am elated to hear that. It's the single best news story of 2005 in Scotland. Despite the best efforts of Her Majesty's Scottish Executive and the inside job done on the STO it now looks like Glasgow might be considered a blip.

Stock transfer is on the rocks! What a wonderful Christmas present.

rebel_lion
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Dec 16 2005 13:56

sorry, i'm being crap, i haven't had time to respond to this thread (temp work i couldn't really turn down due to, ironically, parasites extorting me for rent roll eyes , and organising for a local free veggie food event)... i definitely will tho, but will have to be sunday at the earliest...

magnifico, we really have swapped if you are on the internet now... star green black tongue good to hear from u tho grin