By New Worker correspondent
Kensington & Chelsea council is now infamous for the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 that caused 72 deaths, though many believe the real death toll is much higher. And one year later some of those who lost their homes have still not been rehoused. Although 133 council properties are vacant, 98 of the 204 Grenfell Tower Fire survivors are still waiting to be rehoused. But council homes are lying empty because apparently they are in a poor state of repair.
Alex Diner, policy officer at the North Kensington Law Centre, said: “Some survivors still remain without a home of their own, and the council has accepted that a significant number of other households affected by the disaster are not likely to have their housing needs met potentially for years.
“These vacant properties could be vital to rehousing Grenfell survivors and those whose lives have been changed forever by the disaster. The council must therefore urgently get a grip on its vacant housing stock and bring it up to standard to address the chronic housing need in the borough.”
Labour Shadow Housing Minister, John Healy, said: “It is shameful that council homes sit empty while fewer than half of the families who survived the Grenfell Tower fire have been rehoused, more than a year on from the fire.
“Government ministers could and should have taken over this failing council but have chosen not to.
“What was a national disaster is becoming a national disgrace and the Government must now step in to ensure all survivors have permanent homes so they can start to rebuild their lives.”
Kensington & Chelsea is a hard-line Tory council that was very enthusiastic about pushing privatisation and dodgy ‘arm’s length management organisations’ and TMOs (so-called tenants management organisation), one of which was responsible for managing Grenfell Tower. The failure to rehouse the Grenfell Tower residents and the fact that the fire occurred in the first place shows that such policies are corrupt and a blatant failure. The needs of the people cannot be met by such policies nor by capitalism in general.
This borough exemplifies the contradictions of capitalism. It is one of the richest boroughs in London and one of the wealthiest areas in the country. The average house price is £4.3 million and average incomes are over £1,000 per week. But according to Shelter, the homeless charity, one in every seven families living in Kensington & Chelsea – or 1,441 families out of 10,705 – are technically homeless in the borough. This shows how rotten capitalism is.