This letter of mine was published in the Barnet Times this week:
The eviction of the Bohemia occupiers has sparked very strong reactions, some of which have astonished me. What do you call the resentment of squatting, given that many premises stand empty as austerity takes its toll?
We know that there is a housing crisis in London as our population expands, and that there is barely any housing being made available. Barnet is building three new council houses – the first in 20 years. Meanwhile, I’m told that the council reports that there are 3,600 long-term empty houses in Barnet.
Under such circumstances, people who are ready to live in a place, keep it warm and provide themselves with shelter – a recognised human right – must surely be allowed to negotiate terms with the owner that serves one without hurting the other. I call that compassion, and a makeshift justice. What do you call the wish to throw people onto the street, and criminalise them to boot?