Two or Three Things to Remember on this Day of Remembrance

A conflict started by the ruling classes of Europe’s imperialist nations for the right to expand or maintain their empires in the Balkans, the Middle East, India, Africa and Asia, the Great War was overwhelmingly fought by the working classes of those nations, who – even if they saw through the nationalist rhetoric of their country’s propaganda – were trapped between the firing squads of their own army and the trenches in which their fellow working men faced the same. Of the 200,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers court-martialed during the First World War, 20,000 were found guilty of offences carrying the death penalty, 3,000 were sentenced to death, and 346 were shot. Up to 1.25 million were killed in combat or by disease, and a further 1.675 million were wounded. Those who survived the slaughter returned to the poverty and exploitation of the economic system they died to defend.

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Supply and Demand in Centre Point Residences

Last week I was commissioned by VICE to write about the news that the unsold apartments in Central Point Residences had been taken off the market by the developer until offers met their multi-million-pound sale price. VICE only wanted 800 words; but this is the longer article I got out of it, in which I look at some of the more glaring fallacies in UK housing policy. This is based on three principles that underpin the cross-party consensus on the marketisation of housing provision by local authorities: 1) attracting overseas investment as the primary source of revenue for house building; 2) increasing the supply of residential properties for market sale to reduce house prices; and 3) cross-subsidising affordable housing provision with the sale of residential properties at the highest possible market price. In this article I look at why all three of these principles are fundamentally flawed as a model for the provision of housing Londoners can afford to rent or buy, and are instead designed to produce vast profits for those who invest in and sell the commodities in this property market. In a way, this is my response to Patrik Schumacher’s article ‘Only Capitalism Can Solve the Housing Crisis’, which was published by the Adam Smith Institute in April; but unlike Schumacher, my counter arguments aren’t based on academic theories about how capitalism can and should work, but on the all-too-real evidence of what capitalism has produced – beginning with the causes and effects of London’s housing crisis.

Photograph from Centrepointresidences.co.uk

From one end of London to the other we hear the same demand, from council meeting and corporate board room, from housing association and think tank, from architect and property developer, from Labour cabinet and Tory ministry, from the Greater London Authority and the House of Commons: ‘We must build more homes!’ This cross-party consensus between political rivals, the public and the private spheres, should alert us to the fact that something else is at stake here than the mere housing of London’s citizens, which has always been far down the ladder of political priorities; something which the announcement this week that the multi-million-pound properties in Centre Point Residences have been taken off the market for lack of offers matching their asking price has drawn into focus.

The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, was elected on a promise to build 50,000 new homes every year he was in office. Unsurprisingly, his electoral opponents promised the same. As do the Conservative Government, the Labour opposition and the Liberal Democrats. The argument for doing so goes something like this. London has a housing crisis. If we build more homes the demand will drop, and with it the prices. This supposed ‘law’ of supply and demand is used to justify everything from the estate regeneration programme that threatens hundreds of London council estates with demolition to the hundreds of empty towers with planning permission in Inner London.

But there is a second part to this argument. Despite being the sixth largest economy in the world, the UK, apparently, is broke. There is no money for council housing as there was, for instance, after the Second World War, when the national debt was 245 per cent of GDP. To build the housing we need, London has to attract investment – from the private sector, from offshore companies, from foreign investors, from overseas buyers. This means that a lot of the housing that gets built will be for market sale, and some of it will be the sort of multi-million-pound apartments in Centre Point Residences; but with this money councils and developers can build ‘genuinely’, ‘truly’ (the adjectives increase with their prices) affordable housing for Londoners both present and future. Let’s test the truth value of this argument, which continues to define London’s housing policies, against the example of Centre Point Residences.

Photograph from the Met Archives

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Questions without Answers: Reginald House and Old Tidemill Garden

Save Reginald Save Tidemill

On 19 October I wrote the following on the Save Reginald Save Tidemill Facebook page. My comment was written in response to a shared statement by Lewisham Labour Councillor Joe Dromey, the Cabinet Member for Finance, Skills and Jobs, that he had originally made on the I Love Deptford page about the regeneration scheme. The son of Harriet Harman MP, the former Acting Leader of the Labour Party, and Jack Dromey MP, the Shadow Labour Minister for Work and Pensions, Joe Dromey is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Policy Research, the think tank that did much to create and form the current programme of estate demolition and redevelopment with the publication in 2015 of ‘City Villages: More homes, better communities’. I asked to join the I Love Deptford page in order to respond directly to Councillor Dromey, but my request to do so was denied; and although Councillor Dromey had responded to earlier comments on the Save Reginald Save Tidemill page, he hasn’t responded to mine. In response, Roy Hobson, a qualified surveyor retired from the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors and supporter of the Save Reginald Save Tidemill campaign, copied my comment onto the I Love Deptford page, with the statement that he ‘totally agrees’ with its estimates. As of writing, Councillor Dromey still hasn’t responded. Here is the original comment by Councillor Dromey:

‘You may have heard that a judicial review had been brought against the proposed development at Tidemill to try and stop the development from going ahead. Earlier this week, the judge rejected the judicial review. The people campaigning against the development have a right of appeal, and I understand they will be doing so. But the development is now more likely to go ahead.

‘The Council is proceeding with the development because there is a desperate need for more social housing in our community. We’ve got 2,000 homeless households in Lewisham and many hundreds in Deptford. We’ve got 10,000 households on the council waiting list.

‘The Tidemill development will bring 104 additional social homes. These will be provided on secure tenancies, at below half the market rate, to households on the council waiting list. Over half (56%) of the homes on the site will be social housing – with the additional social housing representing 51% of the homes. A quarter of the homes (24%) are shared ownership to help people get on the property ladder. 20% are built for sale to fund the rest of the homes. It’s the biggest increase in social housing that we’ve seen in Deptford or in Lewisham in a generation.

‘All the existing residents (13 tenants, 3 leaseholders) will get a new home for life on the site. They won’t have to move off the site even for a day, and they won’t face higher rents. We want them to stay, and we want to provide more social homes for those in desperate need.

‘There will be lots of green space on the new estate, equivalent to over 80% of the size of the current garden. Most of this will be open 24/7 for our community.

‘Some have been campaigning to stop the development and to keep the Tidemill garden. It is understandable that some people will be unhappy with the decision, but there has been an extensive process, and the development has been approved by the Council, the Mayor of London, and now backed by the court. We can’t build the same number of homes and keep the meanwhile use garden. So our priority must be social housing to tackle the Tory housing crisis.

‘As ever, happy to discuss this with any members who have any questions.’

And here is what I wrote in return to Councillor Dromey’s invitation:

Continue reading “Questions without Answers: Reginald House and Old Tidemill Garden”

Policy Proposals on Estate Regeneration: ASH Presentation to the Tulse Hill branch of the Labour Party

Last night I gave another presentation of the findings in the ASH report on The Costs of Estate Regeneration. This time it was to the Tulse Hill branch of the Labour Party, one of whose members had invited me to come and talk. He told me that, while the previous Chair had always refused any debate on Lambeth council’s estate regeneration programme, the new Chair was more amenable.

I didn’t know quite what to expect, but as we were waiting for everyone to arrive a woman walked in, sat apart from everyone else in the room, and gave me a look that would have curdled milk. The chair addressed her as ‘Mary’, and suddenly it dawned on me who she was: Mary Atkins, Councillor of the Tulse Hill ward. Under the pretext of carrying out repairs to the estate, it was Councillor Atkins who had initiated the regeneration of Cressingham Gardens that turned into the excuse for its demolition. The last time I’d been in a meeting with her was back in May 2016 at Lambeth Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting to review the Cabinet decision to demolish Cressingham Gardens estate. In an extraordinary statement for which she produced no proof beyond her own accusations, and which the Committee accepted without question, Councillor Atkins declared that there was a ‘climate of fear’ on the estate, that the Save Cressingham Gardens campaign is ‘intimidating’, that tenants on the estate are ‘scared to get involved’, and that they ‘do not want to see such tactics rewarded.’

I wasn’t the only member of the public to challenge this characterisation of the single mothers, elderly couples, families with young children and other residents who have fought so long and with such bravery to save their homes against such underhand tactics. But displaying the lack of interest in residents’ views that has characterised Lambeth council’s consultations, Councillor Atkins then went on to what quickly became apparent was her main point. ‘I want residents’, Atkins said, ‘to adhere to a code of behaviour during consultation.’ This move – first to slander and denigrate residents who form a campaign of resistance, then to ban them from opposing the council’s plans – was taken up on cue by the Chair of the Committee, Councillor Edward Davie, seconded by Councillor Matthew Bennett, then Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration, and unanimously carried by the rest of the Committee.

Following this decision, residents of Cressingham Gardens were sent a report from Lambeth council announcing their intention to bypass the existing, democratically elected Tenants and Residents Association and replace it with a Resident Engagement Panel composed exclusively of residents who were willing to engage with the plans to demolish and redevelop their homes. It became clear that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which had ostensibly met to review the Cabinet decision to demolish Cressingham Gardens estate, had chosen this opportunity to set in motion Lambeth council’s plans to silence opposition to their estate demolition programme.

That was two-and-a-half years ago, and since then little has changed. The meeting last night began with a number of questions from the floor asking Councillor Atkins to provide the financial figures for the relative costs of demolishing and redeveloping Cressingham Gardens estate versus refurbishing it. She replied with two lies. First, she said that she would give them the figures as far as she could, but that all the available information was already in the public domain on Lambeth council’s website. Then, when further challenged, she responded more confidently that the figures had not been produced yet because nothing had been decided.

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London’s Most Influential: Citigroup and the Subprime Mortgage Crisis

‘What makes a city influential? Some say it’s the economic opportunities or the technological capabilities or the possibilities of connecting with other cities. We say it all comes down to people. The progress-makers. The ones whose boundless drive, passion and brilliance bring a city to life like no other. They’re why we’ve made it our job to be here. Believing in their ideas. Backing their ambitions. Making them real. In London. Around the world.

– Citigroup, The Progress 1000: London’s Most Influential People (2018)

‘The Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry.’

The Big Short (2015)

Citigroup Inc. is an American multinational investment bank and financial services corporation with its headquarters in New York City. Citigroup owns Citicorp, the holding company for Citibank, as well as several international subsidiaries. Citigroup is ranked 3rd on the list of largest banks in the United States and, alongside JPMorgan ChaseBank of America, and Wells Fargo, is one of the Big Four banks. Citigroup is rated a systemically important financial institution and as such is on the list of systemically important banks that are regarded as too big to fail. It is also one of the nine global investment banks in the Bulge Bracket. Citigroup is ranked 32nd on the Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue for their respective fiscal years. Citigroup has over 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries. It has 209,000 employees, although it had 357,000 employees before the financial crisis of 2007-2008, when it was rescued via a massive stimulus package by the U.S. government.

The Subprime Mortgage Crisis

Heavy exposure to troubled mortgages in the form of collateralised debt obligation (CDOs), compounded by poor risk management, led Citigroup into trouble as the subprime mortgage crisis worsened in 2008. The company had used elaborate mathematical risk models that looked at mortgages in particular geographical areas, but never included the possibility of a national housing downturn, or the prospect that millions of mortgage holders would default on their mortgages. Trading head Thomas Maheras was close friends with senior risk officer David Bushnell, which undermined risk oversight. As Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin was said to be influential in lifting the Glass–Steagall Act that allowed Travelers and Citicorp to merge in 1998. Then on the board of directors of Citigroup, Rubin and Charles Prince were said to be influential in pushing the company towards mortgage-backed security (MBS) and CDOs in the subprime mortgage market.

Starting in June 2006, Senior Vice President Richard M. Bowen III, the chief underwriter of Citigroup’s Consumer Lending Group, began warning the board of directors about the extreme risks being taken on by the mortgage operation that could potentially result in massive losses. The group bought and sold $90 billion of residential mortgages annually. Bowen’s responsibility was essentially to serve as the quality control supervisor ensuring the unit’s creditworthiness. When Bowen first became a whistleblower in 2006, 60 per cent of the mortgages were defective. The amount of bad mortgages began increasing throughout 2007 and eventually exceeded 80 per cent of the volume. Many of the mortgages were not only defective, but were a result of mortgage fraud. Bowen attempted to rouse the board via weekly reports and other communications. On November 3, 2007, Bowen emailed Citigroup Chairman Robert Rubin and the bank’s chief financial officer, head auditor and the chief risk management officer to again expose the risk and potential losses, claiming that the group’s internal controls had broken down and requesting an outside investigation of his business unit.

The subsequent investigation revealed that at the Consumer Lending Group had suffered a breakdown of internal controls since 2005. Regardless of the findings of the investigation, Bowen’s charges were ignored, despite the fact that withholding such information from shareholders violated the Sarbanes–Oxley Act (SOX), which he had pointed out. Citigroup CEO Charles Prince signed a certification that the bank was in compliance with SOX despite Bowen revealing this wasn’t so. Citigroup eventually stripped Bowen of most of his responsibilities and informing him that his physical presence was no longer required at the bank. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission asked him to testify about Citigroup’s role in the mortgage crisis, and he did so, appearing as one of the first witnesses before the Commission in April 2010.

As the crisis began to unfold, on 11 April 11, 2007, Citigroup announced that it would eliminate 17,000 jobs, or about 5 percent of its workforce, in a broad restructuring designed to cut costs and bolster its long underperforming stock. Even after securities and brokerage firm Bear Stearns ran into serious trouble in the summer of 2007, Citigroup decided the possibility of trouble with its CDO’s was so tiny (less than 1/100 of 1 per cent) that they excluded them from their risk analysis. With the crisis worsening, on 7 January, 2008, Citigroup announced that it was considering cutting another 5 percent to 10 percent of its 327,000 member-workforce.

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The Architecture of Death

IMG_3354

As some of you will know, on Tuesday, 2 October a man was killed by a window pane falling from the Corniche building, which with Merano Residences (designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners) and the Dumont building (designed by David Walker Architects) is one of three new developments of what the advertising boards call ‘luxury apartments and penthouses’ that make up the newly-named Albert Embankment Plaza. This lies within the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea Opportunity Area, over which the London Mayor has planning authority.

Like the other two buildings comprising the Albert Embankment Plaza, the Corniche was built by the Berkeley Group, the largest property developer in London, which has 75 per cent of its sites inside the M25, and pre-tax profits for the year ending April 2018 of £934.9 million, up 15 per cent on the previous year. The building was designed by Foster + Partners, the largest architectural practice in the UK, with pre-tax profits last year of £20.8 million, and whose partners took £23.4 million in bonuses, up 43 per cent on the previous year.

ASH went round to have a look at the building later that day, and the fallen pane could clearly be seen missing from the penthouse apartment on the 27th floor. The last five remaining 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom apartments are currently on sale for between £2.7 million and £6.25 million, but the penthouse from which the window pane fell was reported by the architecture and design magazine Dezeen to have been on the market for £22 million (although this information has subsequently been removed).

Apparently this isn’t the first time a window pane has fallen from the building. Last August, during construction of what Foster’s website describes as ‘curved gardens in the sky’, another pane slipped from its frame and nearly hit two carpenters working on the site. Despite this precedence, the hoardings outside the building advertise the Corniche as ‘Life ahead of the curve’, the irony of which disappears with this latest fatality from London’s housing.

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Why ASH is joining the Labour Party

Over the past few weeks Architects for Social Housing has been running a fairly low-key fund-raising campaign on our Facebook page. Its immediate object was to raise enough money to replace the two of our three computers that have recently been declared dead. Although the response from 13 members of the page was generous, it didn’t raise enough money, so last week we extended this campaign to the ASH blog with a post titled ASH’s Law: A Fundraiser. However, despite the fact that over 250 of the readers of our blog are automatically notified whenever we publish a new post, as of writing a mere 10 people have even visited this post, and only a further 11 people have donated. Grateful as we are – and we are very grateful – for these donations from the people who dug into their wallets, we have over 2,200 followers on our Facebook page alone, and ten times that number have visited our blog so far this year, so two dozen donations isn’t much of a response. We can only assume that the title of our post put our regular readers off. By comparison, our recent 19,000-word report, The Costs of Estate Regeneration, which took three months to write, has been visited over 750 times since we published it on the ASH blog four weeks ago. It would appear from this that people are willing to read our work, but not to offer us anything in return. Due to changes in our circumstances – i.e. were broke – this is no longer a financially sustainable business model for ASH. To try and rectify this, we are making one more appeal to our readers, using means both fair and foul. Hence the subterfuge of the title of this post, which is not our unlikely declaration of allegiance to the political party whose councils are primarily responsible for demolishing London’s council estates and replacing them with properties for home ownership for the rich, buy-to-let landlords and investment opportunities for global capital, but another fundraiser for Architects for Social Housing. But why should I donate money to ASH? – I hear you ask. To answer that question we have to sing our own praises for a bit, which is a little embarrassing; but it seems we need (gently) to remind our would-be supporters of what we’ve done and do.

Architects for Social Housing is a Community Interest Company founded in March 2015 that works in the field of architectural design, community support, policy research, written analysis and the occasional demonstration. We have produced design alternatives to demolition for 6 housing estates, and up to feasibility study stage for 3 of them, including Knight’s Walk, the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, Central Hill estate, Northwold estate and Patmore estate. We were paid for only two of these design proposals – for the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates and the Patmore estate – and that with fees insufficient even to fully pay the architects who worked on them. There is simply no way the residents of these estates would have been able to pay the fees demanded by any other architectural practice. The rest of our design work has been done for free. Each of these schemes has taken years of work to develop, undertaken by young architects giving their labour for free, and entailed innumerable meetings, workshops, consultations, presentations and feedback forums with residents, the production of dozens of articles and studies and, in the case of Central Hill estate, a book-length report. All of this has been done by Architects for Social Housing pro bono publico – for the public good. Unfortunately for us, however, the public hasn’t been quite as generous in return.

Since we set the blog up in September 2015 ASH has published over 200 articles, reports, presentations and case studies, as well as our design proposals for the 6 threatened housing estates, that together have been visited over 190,000 times by 106,000 people from 179 countries across the globe – only 16 countries short of the entire planet. These include Central Hill: A Case Study in Estate Regeneration, which has been visited 1,300 times; The Truth about Grenfell Tower, visited nearly 17,000 times; The Tower: Rewriting Grenfell, visited nearly 2,500 times; Mapping London’s Estate Regeneration Programme, visited over 2,700 times; The Good Practice Guide to Resisting Estate Demolition, visited nearly 1,200 times; Regenerating Hackney’s Estates, visited over 4,800 times; An Exemplary Regeneration: King’s Crescent Estate, visited nearly 2,000 times; Sheffield Tent City and the Social Cleansing of Park Hill Estate, visited 1,500 times; Class War on Woodberry Down, visited nearly 1,200 times; Vote Labour? The Aims and Values of Estate Demolition, visited 1,100 times; The End of Social Housing, visited 7,700 times; and The London Clearances, visited nearly 14,000 times. All these articles and reports that took weeks and sometimes months of research to produce, and whose readership indicates they have been of both interest and use to residents, campaigners and academics alike, have been made available to read on the ASH blog for free.

In addition, over the past 4 years ASH has delivered more than 40 presentations to academic institutions, including to the Bartlett School of Architecture, the Architectural Association, De Montfort University, Birkbeck College, the University of East London, the University of Westminster, the Cass School of Architecture, the London Metropolitan University, the University of Sheffield, the Braunschweig University of Technology, Goldsmiths College, the Royal College of Art and the Chelsea College of Art; as well as at the Greater London Authority, the Royal Academy, Building Design Partnership, Trafford Hall, Cambridge House, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Barbican Centre, the Serpentine Gallery, the Western Front Gallery in Vancouver, the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, the Kunstraum / Bethanien Art Gallery in Berlin and the Architectural League of New York. Although, for our presentations abroad, ASH was paid expenses, the bulk of these presentations were given for free. That’s usual for a busy senior lecturer at a wealthy academic institution; but ASH isn’t an institution of higher education that can pay our members an academic salary.

Although we try to keep a track of our activities, it’s impossible to say just how many meetings, informal discussions, formal presentations and interviews ASH has had or given to newspapers, magazines, news programmes, radio shows, online platforms, filmmakers, artistsgalleries, council scrutiny panels, journalists, students, architectural groups and conferences, not to mention our own meetings on subjects from the causes of the Grenfell Tower fire to hustings on housing to legislation and policy on estate regeneration: hundreds, easily; but again, all this work and time has been given for free.

So what of our present and future activities? In terms of our design work, over the past year ASH has been working with several London-based housing co-operatives looking to expand their housing capacity. With the ongoing refusal of Londons councils to build council housing in which council tenants can afford to live, ASH has been looking at ways to locate the land and build the homes for social rent that Londoners need. We have developed and are continuing to develop architectural designs for two building schemes, and are currently exploring the financial and legal models that are best able to develop these projects. We will soon be writing about these projects in the context of the Greater London Authoritys campaign to promote community-led housing and what this term means in practice. As for other research, following the popularity of our recent report on The Costs of Estate Regeneration, we have received numerous requests to present its findings to residents, campaign groups, tenant and resident associations, think tanks, the Planning Advisory Service, at conferences and – Im genuinely pleased to say – to Labour Party organisations desperate to find an alternative to their partys scorched-earth housing policies. So high has the demand been that, in collaboration with the Woolfe Vision film collective, which has documented much of our past activities on film, ASH will be turning this report into a short film that we will make available to these and other groups for free. But again (and for the last time), to do so costs us time and therefore money – money ASH doesnt have.

When we first formed back in 2015 ASH was able to win grant funding for Open Garden Estates, a London-wide project we ran for the next three years, and which was hosted by 17 housing estates threatened with demolition. All that money went on banners for the residents, producing maps of their estates and printing publicity material for the event. None of it went to ASH. Unfortunately, since then, ASH has not been able to gain any further public funding. Given the extent and reach of our activity this may seem incongruous, but we feel this is partly down to the fact that we are a working group rather than one of the communities to which most grants are made available, and our impression is that the first thing potential funders ask is why a group of architects is asking for public money. Of course, ASH’s membership includes more than architects; but we also think that the political dimension of our activities is another barrier to funding, with potential funders likely to be members of the Labour Party about whose housing policies and council practices ASH is rightly critical. The result of all this is that, although residents fighting the demolition of their estate, or leaseholders going to a judicial review of the compulsory purchase orders on their homes, or activists occupying threatened community halls or gardens, or filmmakers making films about the housing crisis – all of which are actions deserving of support – are apparently able to raise tens of thousands of pounds with relative ease (though with most of it going directly into the pockets of lawyers), Architects for Social Housing, which has produced the designs and knowledge on which many campaigns have based their resistance has received barely £1,500 in donations during the past two years we’ve been asking for them, and that from less than 40 donors.

Someone suggested to me last week that what ASH needs is a rich benefactor, a working-class lad or lass done good who will slip us a few grand a year to keep us afloat. The trouble is, any businessman (or woman) who hasn’t sold their class down the river will almost certainly be a Labour supporter, and therefore as likely to support ASH as we are to join the Labour Party. ASH speaks the truth. That’s what we do. It shouldn’t be as rare as it is, but the truth isn’t something you have to be ‘brave’ enough to speak: that’s liberal tripe. The truth is something you have to work hard enough to create. There are a handful of exceptions, but 99 per cent of the stuff published about the housing crisis is the regurgitated lies of the politicians, think tanks, councillors, developers, consultants and architects profiting from this crisis, and it takes work to oppose those lies with the truth. The yes-men in our national and local press are little more than propagandists for the establishment, parroting the press releases of developers and councils. We’re not journalists doing the bidding of their tax-avoiding paymasters, Labour activists mouthing false promises about Oh Jeremy Corbyn, or academics promoting their outdated books with one eye on a grant application. We’re housing workers, and we produce knowledge about housing derived from our own practice. ASH is on no-one’s side but the truth, and the truth has few friends, fewer collaborators, and – unfortunately, it seems – no benefactors. So it’s up to you and us, the little people, to create that truth from the web of lies that surrounds us. We often observe that if everyone who ever told us how important our work is and how much they admire ASH had, while saying so, pulled out their pockets and tossed us a pony we wouldn’t be asking you for some money now. But they didn’t. So now’s your chance to do so. And yes, that means you. ASH needs YOU!

Someone else told me that, in the declining years of late capitalism, the best way to crowd-fund is to offer something in return. So, besides the ability to continue reading new articles and reports on our blog for free and listening to the presentations that we give on average every two weeks, donators to ASH will be recognised with the following gifts:

  • A £20 donation will receive a badge with the famous ASH logo on it.
  • A £50 donation will receive one of the much sought-after invitations to the ASH Christmas Party 2018, to be held in Cotton Gardens estate.
  • A £100 donation will receive a limited-edition T-shirt bearing the motto with which ASH typically ends its presentations: Architecture is always political’.
  • A £500 donation will receive an A1 colour print of one of ASHs axonometric drawings for either Central Hill estate or West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates.
  • And a £1,000 donation will receive an A0 glossy print of ASH’s brand new GOTCHA! poster (only joking).

Anyway, I hope this shameless piece of self-promotion will convince you of the extent and perhaps the importance of ASHs work, and that my equally shameless begging conveys the seriousness of our financial situation. In short, if we are to continue to do the work we are doing, we need a significant increase in the donations we receive from the people who benefit from our work. As for ASH joining the Labour Party . . . apologies for the fake news, but in the words of the anarchist Benjamin Péret: ‘There is some bread we will not eat!

Simon Elmer
Architects for Social Housing

Architects for Social Housing is a Community Interest Company (no. 10383452). Although we do occasionally receive minimal fees for our design work, the majority of what we do is unpaid and we have no source of public funding. If you would like to support our work financially, please make a donation through PayPal: