Article @ Morning Star, published 3 February 2016
A council tenants’ association warned yesterday that Britain would become “ghettoised” if the Tories’ loathsome Housing Bill was passed.
Camden Assembly of Tenants spokesman Dorian Courtesi told the Star that his north London community would be destroyed, as it already suffers under the strain of government restrictions on social housing stock.
As a low-waged worker living in the Barrington Court tower block, Mr Courtesi fears he too would be made to move if he ended up trapped by the Bill’s pay-to-stay clause.
The Tories want to charge households earning over £40,000 rents in line with those in the private sector.
“My rent could go up from basically £115 a week in council rent to £400 a week, which is the market rate for a one-bedroom flat in this area,” said Mr Courtesi.
His neighbour’s partner is training to be a train driver and could soon be on a salary above the designated threshold.
“She has two children with her partner living in a one-bedroom flat,” commented Mr Courtesi.
“Their rent, for the same property I’m living in, could go up, which is penalising those people who are trying to improve themselves and their lives and support their families.”
Mr Courtesi is a member of Camden Assembly of Tenants, which he argued helped the community get organised and active in local authority decisions over housing.
But when it came to the Housing Bill, he couldn’t help but lament: “There are a lot of unknowns.”
His community is at threat of being butchered by private developers lying “on the wings, waiting for this Bill to be passed, to nab the brownfield sites that might available.”
The Bill would change the definition of brownfield sites, including even those council estates simply in need of refurbishment.
“I understand that in an ideal world we should all be paying low rents according to our earnings but that doesn’t work in London because it’s an open market,” said Mr Courtesi.
“I see it like Paris or New York — that’s basically what’s going to happen — the banlieus, the slums. We’ll be ghettoised.”