Radical housing pledges announced at Waltham Forest Citizens 2019 Assembly
- Waltham Forest Council more than doubles their commitment to build social rent homes: from 1200 in 2018 by 2022, to 2800 in 2019by 2022
- School and College pupils take centre stage in drama to highlight the impact of youth violence on their friends and peers.
On Monday 13 May 2019, nearly a year after the local elections in 2018, 235 community leaders and members from Waltham Forest Citizens gathered at Greenleaf Baptist Church for their Accountability Assembly. The community leaders come from member institutions across the borough including churches, mosques, schools and colleges and presented asks which reflect lived experiences of the people who make up their organisations.
On the night, Waltham Forest Citizens secured commitments from Council Leader Clare Coghill and Cabinet Member for Economic Development and High Streets, Cllr Simon Miller, to build 2800 social rent homes by 2022. This represents a massive increase from the 1200 social rent homes committed by Cllr Coghill in April 2018.
Residents shared powerful stories of direct experience of the housing crisis and youth violence. These were the 2 top issues highlighted as a result of a listening campaign carried out in 2018, in which 1200 local people participated through one to one conversations and small groups. This Assembly sought an update from the Council on the specific asks that Citizens put to them at a meeting of 603 local people in April 2018.
Waltham Forest Council currently has one of the most radical house-building programs in London, but would like to expand it, by calling forward new sites for genuinely affordable homes. Waltham Forest Citizens has been encouraged to see the Council’s goal to include Community Land Trusts amongst the genuinely affordable homes it is seeking to build and is looking forward to working with Cllr Miller to ensure that 2 CLT sites are secured in the borough over the next year.
Vanessa Conant, Rector of the Parish of Walthamstow, said; “Our housing system is in crisis and we see first-hand through our 12,500 members, the pain of homelessness, evictions and a desperate shortage of affordable local housing. The commitment of Waltham Forest Council to build 2800 homes for social rent is the sort of radical response we need to address such deeply rooted problems. Waltham Forest Citizens is keen to work with the Council to support the building of these homes and to explore how more affordable homes can be built in our Borough. We are glad that the Council is taking a bold approach to one of the key issues affecting local people.”
Cllr Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and High Streets, addresses members of Waltham Forest Citizens and pledges to work with the alliance to build two Community Land Trust sites.
Paul Phillips, teacher at Connaught School for Girls, said; “Students from Connaught School for Girls attended the Assembly as they have witnessed the power of holding local politicians to account. This happened when they met with Councillor Khan who came to work with our students on improving safety in the local area around our school. Now they want to see what respectful working relationships with politicians look like Borough-wide.”
Averil Watan, Warden at St Barnabas Church in Walthamstow said; “I’m proud to see new, young and older leaders, who have shown great passion and commitment, emerging through the church. These leaders are demonstrating that people of faith have an important contribution to make to the social justice issues we face in the Borough.
Leighanna Allen, a local member of St Marys church, said; “I am a mum living with my kids – I work in the borough and my kids go to school here. We used to live in Waltham Forest, but we have been moved to Newham, in our third year of precarious, “temporary” living. The system is broken and families like mine suffer the brutalities of gentrification, social cleansing and a chronic shortage of genuinely affordable housing and a council housing team that do not treat people in need with respect. My family has been pushed out of our community. Away from friends, family and support. That is why we need a massive push to build new social rent homes.”
Waltham Forest Citizens is a local alliance of TELCO (The East London Citizens Organisation), the founding Chapter of community organising charity Citizens UK*
NOTES TO EDITORS
Daniel Mackintosh, Senior Organiser Waltham Forest Citizens – Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org 07495 724658
Andy May, Head of Communications at Citizens UK: email@example.com / 07917824009
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION
Waltham Forest Citizens is an alliance of 11 member organisations – schools, colleges, churches and mosques – representing 12 500 people. It is part of national community organising alliance, Citizens UK, which helps communities campaign on the issues that matter to them. Citizens UK is the national home of community organising – a network of over 400 faith groups, schools, colleges, trade unions, charities and community groups that work together for the common good. We are best known for founding the real Living Wage campaign, securing London’s first ever Community Land trust and spearheading a response to the refugee crisis in 2016 and holding General Election Assemblies attracting the Prime Ministerial candidates to their stage in both 2015 and 2010. More information at: www.citizensuk.org