The independent London newspaper

Squatting is not the problem. It is the solution

18 May, 2017

Blustons shop in Kentish Town

• I APPLAUD the people who are squatting in the disused Blustons shop in Kentish Town High Street (‘Blustons is our home,’ insist shop squatters, May 11).

Squatting is an ancient and human right. It’s not always pretty but neither is sleeping and freezing on the streets.

When you’re homeless it takes all energies to just survive. So well done squatters for having the imagination to do something about your situation and peacefully occupy empty shop buildings with care for their fabric, history and community.

Politically the under 25s and 35s have been given a major raw deal with low-paid work, unaffordable universities and not even the dream of a home, if not lucky enough to benefit from “bank of mum and dad”.

They are stripped of housing (and other) benefit and not allowed on the council housing waiting list unless proven to be extremely vulnerable.

Squatting is not the problem it’s the solution. Squatting was often a way European and American cities grew, as makeshift settlements became permanent communities, which were often then appropriated by landowners and replaced with something more profitable.

Gerrard Winstanley and his Diggers, provoked a wave of short-lived Christian communes in the 1640s and questioned the very foundations of property ownership and the class structure that resulted from it.

Squatting is a notable act of self-reliance by people facing a system that does not provide housing they can afford. I hope this can be seen as a moral wake-up call to vote for better on June 8 and not a moral panic.

Patshull Road, NW5


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