In a call to end the horror of slum homeless hostels in Edinburgh a protest is planned tomorrow outside Abbots House at Links Place in Leith. The organisers are inviting people to come along and show solidarity with homeless people offered accommodation recently reviewed as “absolutely disgusting”. Michael Cormack from the campaign group said:

“Last summer homeless residents exposed the shocking conditions in Abbots House and Almond House.   Six months later – despite Edinburgh Council promises – nothing has changed.  If anything conditions are worse.   The North Edinburgh mums campaign against the benefits cap shows that to win improvements we need direct action.  We urge all to join the protest, and help create a social movement to insist everyone has the right to a good secure home.”

The protest is on Wednesday 17 January 10am – 11.30am at Abbots House 10 Links Place EH6 7EZ

Abbots House may have been reviewed as “absolutely disgusting”, but its business is flourishing.

Its owner is making a fortune from exploiting homeless people placed there by Edinburgh City Council.

Instead of building homes to solve the housing crisis once and for all the Council persists in a mischievous plan funding private profit through public money against public interest. The housing crisis has seen Edinburgh City Council paying out £120,000 a week to hostels and B&Bs. While the numbers of homeless continue to grow, Edinburgh Council has been using rotten hostels and B&B as temporary accommodation.

Whole families are being put in one room. Dirty and dilapidated rooms, filthy mattresses, disgusting shared bathrooms and toilets with no locks….. The shocking conditions in Abbots House and Almond House B&B’s were exposed in the Daily Record in August 2017 – with some of the residents describing them as more similar to prisons than homes – but things are now worse than ever.

Last year people also occupied the Council North Office in Pilton on 16 and 17 May to demand the Council grant decent accommodation to one mum and her three children, evicted by her private landlord. She had only been offered totally unacceptable homeless hostel accommodation. Local groups ‘Power to the People’ and ‘All About Me’ were joined by activists answering the solidarity call by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty. Private landlords are profiting from extortionate rents, then brutally evicting tenants who cannot afford to pay.

This is the urban clearances.

In contrast to the Sleep in the Park – “to end homelessness for good” – this is about solidarity, not charity, corporate PR or virtue signalling.

The difference is important.

David Black who wrote on the Tourist Cull a few weeks ago has claimed that several homeless people said they were “moved on” to make way for the Sleep in the Park event. This was at a meeting at the Augustine Church, on George IV Bridge, on December 7. If true it does put the Sleep in the Park approach in new light.

The campaign is asking City of Edinburgh Council to:

· Stop putting families in homeless bed and breakfasts

· Take immediate action to drastically improve the appalling conditions in Abbots House and other homeless B&B’s like Almond House

· Provide more genuine social housing for rent so no-one has to stay in homeless B&B’s

The group have issued a statement ahead of the protest saying:

“There are more than enough resources to build good homes for all. But profit is being put before people’s needs. Developers make more money from luxury hotels, shopping centres, and expensive private homes – the number of council houses in Edinburgh has fallen from 58,000 in the late 1970’s to under 20,000. In the meantime rents in Edinburgh are soaring, with entire neighborhoods being made unaffordable for working class people, displaced by luxurious hotels and private homes for the few.

After years of succumbing to the logic of social cleansing of the city, Edinburgh is seeing a resurgence of direct action against the housing crisis. The group that is most significant in this wave of protest is led by mothers from North Edinburgh who have been affected by the cuts to housing benefit. “All About Me” contest the benefits cap as the reason why so many families are getting evicted and finding nowhere else to go. After a summer of protest including occupations of Council offices and meetings and the take-over of Tory party offices, the group has gained the small victory of the abolition of charges for homeless people taking their possessions out of council storage.

This should be considered only the beginning of this campaign to put an end to the system of profit over homelessness operated by Edinburgh City council and its cohorts of private profiteers. Together we can confront the housing crisis and fight back against austerity and the cuts, we need to make these brutal policies unworkable.”