IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Holloway jail site developer slammed over council homes auction

Peabody defend sales after being told they should be safeguarding properties instead of selling them off

12 June, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Jon Glackin: ‘One would think these actions fly against the principles of any social housing provider’

ACTIVISTS and a homeless organisation have criticised a housing association for auctioning council homes.

Peabody, who are redeveloping the former Holloway Prison site, have come under fire after selling two homes in Islington which had previously been leased to council tenants.

They defended their actions saying it would have cost too much to refurbish the flats and that the money from the auctions can now be put back into maintaining other properties.

But homeless organisation Streets Kitchen, backed by Islington Homes for All (IfA), say “every home is needed” and told the company they should be safeguarding council homes instead of selling them off.

IfA spokesman Andy Bain said: “Housing need in Islington is so dire that every home for social rent is precious.

“Much has been reported about Peabody housing association’s purchase of and plans to build new housing on the former Holloway Prison site, including the 42 per cent of homes which will be for social rent. What we do not hear about are Peabody’s sales of street properties in London, which they originally bought to house people in need.

“This month, 20 such properties in London have been auctioned, including two in Islington: one in Oakley Road, Canonbury, and another in Calabria Road, Highbury. Peabody would have bought these properties with large grants from the Housing Corporation – in effect, money from the taxpayer – and will be selling them at immense profits.”

In Islington there are about 14,000 people on the housing register waiting for homes to free up and 267children live in “severely overcrowded homes”.

There are also 485 families with children who live in temporary accommodation and 447 single people or childless couples in temporary accommodation.

Streets Kitchen founder Jon Glackin said: “It’s terrible to hear of any housing association selling off council homes. Do they think that a nice £500,000 house in Islington is too good for council tenants to live in?

“One would think these actions fly against the principles of any social housing provider.”

A Peabody spokesman said: “When street properties become vacant, we review them to make sure they are still suitable to rent, to understand how much investment they need, and assess whether the money could be better invested elsewhere.

“The funds raised from sold properties allow us to invest more in maintenance and improvements to other buildings.

“Since 2017 we have sold a small number of properties in Islington whilst spending over £100m on development in the borough.

“This has provided 347 new homes, with 64 per cent of these being let at social rent. We feel we offer a lot locally, including through our community foundation and the tireless efforts of our care and support staff supporting vulnerable people.”

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