Campaigners demonstrated outside Lambeth Town Hall last week
Protestors campaigned outside a Lambeth Council meeting last week to demonstrate against a family being evicted from their home of more than 30 years.
Maritza Tschepp’s home is one of several co-op houses in Lambeth that was compulsory purchased for demolition for a few thousand pounds in the 70s and then left empty. She saved the house from further dereliction and showered it with love, bringing it up to an estimated value of around £700,000.
Now the council want to reward the single mum by selling off her house and all other short life stock, claiming they will reinvest funds into a capital pot to pay for schools, libraries and housing.
“I’m really angry at the council’s plan to sell off all the shortlife housing co-ops and hand them to property developers,” says Chris Blake from Lambeth Housing Activists.
“Lambeth does not have a shortage of property developers. What it has is a critical shortage of housing for people of ordinary income like me, Maritza and the people at this demonstration.”
Maritza has spent thousands of pounds every year restoring her neglected home. She has re-plumbed it, re-wired it, rebuilt structural walls, replaced the roof, replaced windows and landscaped the garden.
Now she lives in a state of fear and vulnerability that it might all be taken away.
“Every time I hear the post, I think ‘please don’t be an eviction notice’,” said the 56-year-old further education lecturer.
“I don’t understand why this is happening to me. I’m a good person. It feels like theft.”
Many of Lambeth’s co-op homes have already been sold off by the council, who hope to make in the region of £27m for the sale of their shortlife housing.
Councillor Pete Robbins stood under fire from the protesters questions about where this money had gone.
“We are investing in things that the government have denied us investment in,” he said.
Many say they are suspicious about this, considering the council’s announcement that they are building a £50m town hall or recent statistics which reveal there was £38m uncollected tax last year alone.
Maritza has been on the council housing waiting list since 1979 so the council have had to offer her a council home in Clapham. It’s a move that will rip her from her family apart and leave her three adult children to be re-housed separately—that is if campaigners allow it to get to that stage.
The stomping and shouting that echoed across the Lambeth town hall highlighted the strength of feeling from protestors.
“I’m not going quietly,” says Maritza.
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