by Nancy Taaffe, Waltham Forest Socialist Party
A major housing eviction crisis, involving hundreds of thousands of private renters, is looming as various pandemic lifelines are ended by the Tory government on 1 October. Waltham Forest Socialist Party member Nancy Taaffe explains how her branch is fighting back.
I first met Nadia Zaman Attaria while selling the Socialist. Our Socialist Party branch was petitioning for the tens of thousands of homes being built in Waltham Forest to be council homes to end the homelessness crisis – not the for-profit model our Labour-led council pursues.
A year or so later Nadia rang me. She faced imminent eviction and needed help. Every other avenue to stop eviction had been closed – councillors, the local MP, etc.
This is a hard one to win. Nevertheless, I said to Nadia, “I don’t know what we can do and I don’t know if we can win. But if you want to fight, Waltham Forest Socialist Party is with you!”
Over these last two months the Socialist Party, Waltham Forest Trades Council, Unite Community and the London Renters Union have worked together to build support for Nadia in her refusal to be another part of the story of socially cleansing the working class out of London.
We resist this abomination of working class people – usually on low incomes or no jobs (disgracefully, many single parents) – being forcibly displaced from their homes and their support network.
On 3 August we spent the day outside the one-room temporary accommodation Nadia had won through refusing to go. Her refusal to budge forced the local council to find her temporary accommodation – they say for two more weeks.
This is an initial victory for Nadia and the campaign. She’s not been moved 170 miles to Stoke-on-Trent, which the council said was her only option. And she’s not in a B&B, which is where they wanted to send her and her kids at the start of the day. She is in a two-bed place, safe with her children, as it should be. Now the fight goes on to make that permanent.
People have criticised us for ‘fighting for just one woman’. The truth is the Socialist Party was fighting for Nadia long before we met her. We’re fighting for all the Nadias (men, too), across our borough and beyond, who have been forced out by the privatised, pro-developer, austerity housing model.
This is a story of 30 years of privatisation of housing stock, of right-wing Labour’s collusion in the Tory benefit cap, of a forced displacement policy. It’s also a story of resistance.
East London resident fighting eviction again
29TJ JULY 2021
by Linda Taaffe, Waltham Forest Socialist Party
Nadia Zaman has to fight once again (see ‘Protesters halt Nadia’s eviction’ below) — this time to stop her and her three children being relocated to Stoke-on-Trent. Nadia has lived all her life in Walthamstow, East London.
She resisted eviction, and then accepted the council offer of a single room in nearby Leyton for her whole family. Her supporters are submitting a realistic plan on how she can be housed locally — given willingness to listen and with sensible flexibility on both sides.
But these plans could go down the drain now that Mears are involved – the private contractors have a £80 million deal to cleanse the borough of its poorest families, and ship them off to Stoke.
The prospect of being isolated away from family and community fills Nadia with dread – as it would anybody. It is grossly unjust — even cruel and inhuman.
Councillors must stop this crisis for Nadia right now. They should pull into line the council officers pressing ahead with the ‘offer’ of Stoke or ‘out on the streets’. They should respond to Nadia’s supporters’ proposal.
We are sick of the torrent of sad stories in the media about people in housing difficulties. We need action.
Take the profit motive out of housing provision. Instead, housing should be considered a social service. Build masses of council homes at council rents, not unaffordable tower blocks.
Protesters halt Nadia’s eviction
30TH JUNE 2021
by Mike Cleverly, Waltham Forest Socialist Party
It was the day Nadia had been dreading. On 29 June, the bailiffs were coming to put her, her three children and her belongings out on the street.
She has lived in Walthamstow, east London, for 38 years, and her children attend a local school. Every avenue to protect her home and children has been explored. Originally, the best Waltham Forest Labour council offered was a temporary home in Stoke-on-Trent, where this single mum of three has no family, friends or support.
On 29 June, we were outside Nadia’s home to resist the bailiffs. Our 80 ‘eviction resisters’ were pensioners, disabled people, young renters and Socialist Party members. The protest was called by the Socialist Party and supported by Waltham Forest Trades Council, the body that coordinates the unions in the borough.
The landlord’s agent came to inform us that the eviction would not happen that day, because of the number of people outside. Nadia will get a new eviction date, but we said we will be back with similar numbers whatever day they choose.
We will not be moved. We will not let the bailiffs pass.
A Labour councillor said the best the council’s housing department can now offer Nadia is one bedroom in a shared house in another London borough, Redbridge. Nadia rejected this as it’s unsuitable for her and her three children.
Many people are shocked that this can happen in one of the world’s richest cities. But Nadia’s case is not unusual.
Thousands of families, with their roots in London, are being transported miles away. This is the result of decades of austerity by Labour and Tory governments.
The sale of council homes, and the stock transfer of council housing to housing associations, has decimated housing that families like Nadia can afford. It is horrifying to realise that this Labour council treats such families no different to how they’re treated by Tory councils.
In the streets around where Nadia lives there are plenty of empty homes. On 27 June, Waltham Forest Socialist Party publicised the scandal of empty homes with a ‘pavement walk’ to blocks of flats standing empty in mockery of families living in cramped, damp accommodation.
In some cases, they have been on the 9,000-long waiting list for many years. We heard about families pushed around temporary accommodation for years, with children not knowing which school they will attend from one term to another.
We held an ‘open mic’, then walked the short distance to the nearest group of tower blocks. Our demands – ‘house the homeless’ and ‘take over empty homes’ – were echoed by the people we met.
Nadia will not be moved
At the eviction protest, Nadia spoke to particularly thank Socialist Party member Nancy Taaffe. Nadia met Nancy on one of our Socialist Party campaign stalls a year ago.
She remembered Nancy as someone with a fighting record locally. Nadia turned to her after getting nowhere with the councillors and Walthamstow Labour MP Stella Creasy.
This struggle is for Nadia and her children, but we know that there are thousands of cases pending, many in Waltham Forest and across every city in the country as the eviction amnesty is brought to an end. These families must not be left to fight on alone.
Eviction Resistance in Walthamstow!!
29TH JUNE 2021
by Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party
Socialist Party, Waltham Forest Trades Council, local people, the renters union, Unite community — in total over 70 people have turned up to support Nadia and help her stay in her home. Disgracefully Waltham Forest Labour Council has a policy of housing people to outside the borough, in this case a single parent with three kids, whose kids go to local schools and whose family (and therefore help and support) live nearby.
The bailiffs are due today and she’s still not been offered anything! The end of ban on evictions means Nadia is not the only one. We’ll stand with Nadia and we’ll help organise in the borough through the trades council’s Housing Action Network to stand and fight with all those threatened. Councillors come here today!! Come on Grace Williams, Liquat Ali — come today to sort out Nadia’s housing! We’ll come to see you if you don’t come to see Nadia.
UPDATE: The bailiffs did not come today! Reprieve for now, but the fight goes on!
21ST JUNE 2021
by Nancy Taaffe, London Socialist Party
House Nadia in one of the flats being built in Waltham Forest. If these flats being built are not for working class people, who are they for?
This is a photo of Nadia Zaman. Nadia’s relationship broke down and now she is facing a dire situation. She is facing eviction, along with her three children, aged 10, 8 and 4. She lives in a house where the rent is £1600 a month, and which even the council says ‘is not fit for human habitation’.
When her husband left she had no means of paying the rent difference imposed by the benefit cap.
She and her three children have been served a bailiff’s letter to be out of their home by the 29th June. She has lived in this area for 38 years, all three of her children go to local schools. Her mother lives near by and they support each other after her father died from cancer last year.
Nancy says: “I met Nadia whilst selling The Socialist on the streets last year, I gave her my number. We are calling on people to attend a meeting in Stoneydown Park at 4PM on Tuesday 22nd June. We will have a leaflet done to publicise this case by the weekend, any help you can give ahead of this park meeting is appreciated.”
We’re calling on the Labour-controlled council to house Nadia. We know that some developments in the area now have 50% occupancy. That means 50% are empty. We call on Labour councillors and the Labour MP Stella Creasy to intervene and get Nadia housed locally.
We will be producing a ‘Peoples Budget’ which we will use to campaign for the jobs, homes and services that we all need. We need council homes, not unaffordable private flats that sit empty whilst women and children are forced out.
Please come to Stoneydown Park next Tuesday at 4pm. Please tell your friends to help us.