Islington ‘family’ roars: ‘Housing is our right, we’ll never stop our fight’

Islington Park Street protest

Islington Park Street protest - Credit: Archant

A hundred protesters gathered outside a court to “shame” a housing association on Tuesday.

At Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court and Family Court, Camden-based One Housing Group launched legal proceedings to reclaim possession of a property in Islington Park Street, off Upper Street. It is home to a “family” of 18 low-income adults who live, eat and make decisions together.

It has been a community home for 39 years, with some residents having lived there for more than three decades. But One Housing claims the tenants haven’t proved a “demonstrable need”, leading to the court action.

Protesters rallied outside the Gee Street court before the case opening. They chanted: “Housing is our right, we’ll never stop our fight,” and: “One Housing, shame on you”.

Siobahn McSweeney, a community home resident of six years, said: “The level of turnout was astounding and goes to show how sick people are of housing associations in general. It was a chance to show our outrage.

“In trying to evict people who have been around for so long, it’s indicative of the housing crisis in London: profit before people.

“There’s an arrogance in taking this to court. They should be trying to negotiate with tenants rather than causing distress.”

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Cllr Caroline Russell, for Highbury East, also attended the protest and echoed Ms McSweeney: “This situation sums everything that’s wrong with housing in London. Buildings are seen as assets and not homes.

“The way that the community has responded to this, with such strength and care for one another, is absolutely awe-inspiring.”

But Paul Fawcett, spokesman for One Housing Group, countered: “As a recognised social housing provider, we have a duty to make sure social housing is provided to those with a demonstrable need. At this point in time, we don’t have the required detail to determine whether or not they should be living there.

“We seem to have found a gap in understanding. They feel they have the right to stay and we feel obliged to have them demonstrate that. That’s why we feel it’s appropriate to take this to court and force the conversation.”

The case will reconvene on Tuesday, October 13.