New book: The Rent Trap

Posted: November 25, 2015 in articles, housing

Over the past year I’ve been busy working on a jointly-authored book for the newly-incarnated Left Book Club.

The Rent Trap brings together a lot of the work myself and Rosie Walker have been doing on housing as journalists and activists. We interviewed everyone from policy-makers to people living in the worst housing conditions, and many degrees in between. What we are aiming to do is show why we have fallen into a rent trap, and look at some of the things we can do about it. Publication is due in March 2016. To find out more, check out the Left Book Club site.

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Housing immigration checks introduced in the 2014 Immigration Act are set to be ramped up under the Conservatives. This is a short and quick comment piece written up for the Independent in my day-job capacity soon after the announcement was made. Suffice to say I’m not a fan of the policy.

The Government’s new plan to jail “rogue landlords” for renting out homes to undocumented migrants is an extremely unjust measure for everyone involved in the private housing market. As well as harming undocumented people and needlessly punishing those who rent to them, it will only make help fuel discrimination among landlords and letting agents.”

Read the full article here.

The Care Quality Commission found that around only one in six people who used crisis care felt the care they received had worked. This is a piece I wrote up on the back of some research I did in my day job to support the Care Quality Commission review, looking at the experiences of black and minority ethnic people.

“Ramone is in his mid-20s and with his family emigrated to the UK around 10 years ago from eastern Europe. He developed a severe mental illness that requires long-term care, but is not eligible for treatment. This means that when he becomes extremely ill, he is sectioned (usually by the police) and admitted to a mental health unit where he is medicated to a point where he can be released, with no care afterwards. This pattern has repeated itself for six years.”

Read the full piece here.

The rise of housing campaigns in the UK has been amazing. Ten years ago there were a few campaigns, mostly local around protecting council housing from privatisation or demolition. Now there are dozens: private renter groups, anti-gentrification campaigns, anti-eviction campaigns, homelessness campaigns, and radical housing action. The Green European Journal asked me to write something up on housing campaigns in the UK, and it was clear to me that I had to write about the Focus E15 Campaign, which went from a small group of single mothers doing street stalls to a high-profile and active campaign on all aspects of the housing crisis.

Read the full article here

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It often feels we’re moving in the wrong direction on equality. The language of fairness has infiltrated debate, despite it often being used against redistribution and social justice. Anyhow, the Green Party decided last week to create a new Equality and Diversity policy, it’s an interesting process and hopefully one that will generate real debate about what we mean by equality and how are we going to achieve it. I should declare that I signed this motion, so I’m not exactly neutral!

Read the full article at Bright Green.

By no means am I a photographer, but I was quite chuffed to see some photos I shot at a demonstration used by Buzzfeed.

The demo was called by Digs Hackney Renters, and targeted a lettings agent in Stoke Newington whom the Telegraph reported had charged tenants £1260 to change some names on a contract.

Read the report and see my snazzy photos here.

So this isn’t actually something I did as a freelance, and was part of my day job. It sets out and summarises some of the key race inequality issues that are currently found in private renting.

“Fifty years ago, if you had walked around the streets of London looking for digs you’d have seen signs on flats to rent saying ‘No Blacks, No Irish’. Despite continued cases of direct discrimination, racial discrimination in housing is generally now much more complex, nuanced and subtle.”

Read the full article here.