The Campaign Against Empty Homes held an online rally on Saturday 9 October to highlight the fact that half a million homes in Britain are without a permanent resident. A shocking statistic when homelessness stands at 280,000 in England alone according to the last official figure.
One of the big ideas of the rally was to push for retrofitting homes over knocking buildings down, as this is better for the environment than new builds.
Carla Denyer, Green Party co-leader, said: “Many of our big cities are becoming hollowed out.” Because of the issue of empty homes, she believes that investors exacerbate the housing crisis.
John Bird of The Big Issue said: “It’s a crying shame that we still haven’t addressed the issue of empty homes.”
Jeremy Corbyn Labour MP asserted that housing is a human right, the right to buy should be stopped and that second homes lead to negative impacts on local communities.
Morag Gillie of the campaign Homes for All said: “It is ordinary people that are paying the price of free market catastrophes.”
The issue of the ongoing tragedy of Grenfell was mentioned, as well as the empty blocks in the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark, overseas owners in Hammersmith, the new development of the Millbank Tower and the positive efforts of the Southend-on-Sea council.
There were also international attendees from New York and Berlin, who were supportive, having to combat empty homes in their own cities. Campaigners in Berlin were celebrating a victory on that front.
Jon Glackin of Streets Kitchen reported that the number dying on the streets while homes lay empty has gone up since the Covid 19 crisis. And a refugee from Iran spoke anonymously about his experiences of the appalling conditions at Napier Barracks, as refugees are poorly housed in the housing crisis context.
Morag Gillie ended on a positive note saying it had been a “brilliant day” that was meant to serve as a rallying call for further action.