by Nick Auvache, Unite housing workers and Camden Socialist Party
Clarion housing association is trying to evict an elderly tenant. Peter is one of the last residents to inhabit the retirement home in Camden, north London. He has lived there for eight years, and now faces homelessness.
The building was passed on to the council by its original owner for £1 on the condition that it be used as a retirement home in perpetuity, before being sold to Clarion. Neither the council nor Clarion seem concerned about this promise. The building is in a prime position, ripe for development.
Clarion cites fire risk for wanting to empty the building. Despite still being occupied, it has already removed fire-safety equipment!
Peter is the last tenant fighting since Camden Labour council and Clarion announced closure in June 2019. Many other elderly tenants accepted the £6,000 compensation to move as they felt unable to resist the mega-landlord. But Peter is determined to fight.
He believes that the fire-risk story is a red herring, a convenient excuse to empty the building. He claims that Clarion has managed the decline of the building over years, neglecting its upkeep to make it easier to evict.
Camden council has over 6,000 people on its housing waiting list. So rare homes like this are essential to providing older people in the borough somewhere affordable.
Peter describes Clarion as “property dealers masquerading as a charity”. He wants the building to be restored to enable elderly tenants to fill its flats once more.
Clarion has a poor record when it comes to providing convenient excuses to vacate buildings with development potential. Recently, the same dubious arguments were used to evict tenants overlooking Victoria Park in east London at a moment’s notice.
The Socialist Party and the Social Housing Action Campaign (SHAC) will campaign alongside Peter to support his stand. We need more genuinely affordable council-run accommodation, not less. This is just another example of how housing associations are far from tenant-friendly landlords. We need to take back control of these unaccountable property developers, and place them under the democratic control of tenants, workers and locally elected representatives.