Labour councillor and former MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad, joined the demo and spoke passionately against the obscenity of having empty homes when we have people living in appalling temporary accommodation.
The picketers were taking part in a National Day of Action on 9th October organised by the Campaign Against Empty Homes, calling for community and government action on the growing number of empty homes in the country. The Day was also to raise public awareness of the rising number of long-term empty homes and homes without a permanent resident in England. Government and market data show there are around 270,000 long-term empty homes, 260,000 second-homes with no permanent resident, and 120,000 Airbnb-type short-lets.
The Campaign is a coalition of organisations dedicated to ensuring wasted empty homes are brought into use and that new homes are built to meet local needs first. It is backed by the Big Issue magazine, Homes for All, Action on Empty Homes, and Unite’s London and South East regions.
Over 100,000 families are living in temporary accommodation whilst over half a million homes have no permanent resident. Communities are being broken-up as council estates that could be refurbished are being left to decline, to be replaced by yet more unaffordable new blocks.
The climate change crisis demands refurbishment, not demolition. Retrofitting 270,000 long-term empty homes and council estates can help solve the climate crisis.
Instead, the wrong kind of housing continues to be built across the country – they are unaffordable to anyone on an average income to either rent or buy. These new builds are also being sold off-plan and ending up as Airbnb short-lets, second homes or buy to leave empty wealth investments, with no permanent residents.