Two Very Different London Stories about Investments in Affordable Housing

Two Very Different London Stories about Investments in Affordable Housing

by Sangeeta Haindl
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The link between public sector employees in America to pensioners & single mothers in East London via @Justmeans #SRI

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - 8:00am



Recently, there has been a story in the news that links low-paid workers including firefighters, teachers and other public sector employees in America to pensioners and single mothers in East London. It’s the story about what happened when the American private equity firm, Westbrook Partners, bought a low-rent housing estate with the help of Richard Benyon, a Member of Parliament. This happened because the U.K. government is no longer providing affordable housing for all in London’s booming real estate market. Now, Westbrook has gone back on its word when it said that the rents on the New Era estate would, in some cases, quadruple in 2016 to meet market rates. Instead, it has served tenants with an eviction notice giving them until Christmas to find new homes.

The local authorities and the mayor of London are protesting, pointing out that Westbrook's profits will be made at the cost of the British taxpayers who will foot the bill when the families are made homeless. Yet now the homes belong to an American private equity firm, which has made no secret of its sole objective: to make the maximum profit from its investments. The house prices and rents in London are soaring far above what this community can afford to pay, so the residents face not just losing their homes, but being forced out of London altogether.

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Sangeeta Haindl writes on social innovation, social enterprise, and social entrepreneurs. She is the owner of Serendipity PR, in London, U.K., where she works with high-profile brands and organizations in the public, non-profit, and corporate sectors, winning awards for her work from the communications industry. She describes herself as a Spiritual Entrepreneur, Conscious Explorer, and Futurist. She enjoys helping others, paying it forward, and being a mum.