It was about a month ago that the landlord of my beautiful K-Town town house decided to selfishly serve notice on the Homies and I. So, in a little more than a month’s time our beautiful first/second floor maisonette with high ceilings, roomy rooms and rangey roof terrace will no longer be our home. There is a chance that we will have to leave K-Town.
I don’t know that I will ever have the words to express how much that idea pains me, suffice to say that it is a most unpleasant feeling. I shall leave for a future post the tales of how I have settled into London in K-Town, battling High (Glandular) Fevers and traumatic break-ups along the way, while collecting a football team, a pack of cool new pals and a pair of super Homies. Likewise the use of Hampstead Heath as my back garden and the Junction, Vine and Pineapple as my close-to-hand boozers and my darkroom in South K-Town, which I have come to love and depend upon, could all be wrenched away from me at the start of April. Oh, how will I cope?!
The trauma of my impending loss is only surpassed by the infuriating realisation that there is extremely limited living space in K-Town for anyone other than billionaire famous people, those lucky enough to have a Council house or incredibly lucky fuckers. I should point out that I belong firmly in the latter category, or rather, did, until a month ago, because ever since we found out we had to move it seems there has been a dearth of rental property pour trois personnes. Unless one is willing to part with in excess of £800/week. Each.
As with any such trauma, I am using words as a coping strategy. Last week I directed the associated anger at property developers, in a letter to the Camden New Journal, my (soon-to-be ex-) local paper:
I read with utter disgust the article on page 2 of last week’s paper, ‘Developers pay millions at council’s homes auction’. Of the seven properties auctioned last week, not one was sold to a private home-buyer.
When I moved to Kentish Town nearly two years ago, I immediately fell in love with the area and my local community. I’m part of a local women’s football team, I’m on first name terms with my local corner shop keeper and I do most of my socialising in the local area. I long to stay, but since being served notice by my good landlord, my housemates and I are struggling to find somewhere even remotely affordable to rent, let alone buy.
I’m a firm believer that every member of the working, earning, contributing public should have the right to aspire to owning their own home. When even those earning salaries above the average for their local area are unable to afford to rent, much less buy property in those areas then something is gravely amiss.
The (nameless) property developers won last week’s auctions fair and square, splashing out sufficient amounts of cash to ensure that there was absolutely no chance of any one of those houses becoming a home any time soon. But, is it fair that real people can no longer aspire to owning their own home in Camden?
I understand the concern that those on the Council’s housing waiting lists must feel, but there is a dire need for affordable homes. The properties sold in last week’s auction were undeveloped, unrenovated, so-called ‘fixer uppers’. Those trying to get a foot on the property ladder should be able to realistically aspire to making these houses their homes.
Shame on you Camden Council, for cashing in and effectively selling off your communities to perk up the bank balance. Is it not true that stable homes are the basis of stable families and thus stable communities? It’s common knowledge that home owners stay longer in and contribute more to their local communities. Surely nobody wants to see Camden become a community of people who ‘stay here’, rather than ‘live here’.
A rented house is by it’s nature transient and tenants rarely take in it the sort of pride they would in a home of their own. Developers can transform those beautiful period houses into immaculate modern flats that few can afford, but will they become homes? Will they add anything to the local community? I fear not.
I’m not blaming these particular property developers for the woes of society, or more specifically the plight of people like me, who are being forced out of their local community. Nor am I blaming Camden Council. But, the importance of stable homes shouldn’t be undervalued. It won’t be long before the only people who own homes in our local area are the unfathomably wealthy. And when they die, the property developers will doubtless be poised, ready to swoop in for the kill.
Likewise, soon the only people who will be able to afford Camden rent prices will be Eurostar Business Lounge travelers on a quick stopover in our fair Borough. “Community – qu’est-ce que c’est?”
Me, of K-Town