The HSA 2022 Autumn Lecture -  Housing Activism and Social Transformation 

Date: Friday 21st October 2-4 pm 

Location: Online 

The theme of this year's autumn lecture is housing activism and social transformation. The event will focus on housing activism in the context of a highly financialised global housing system,  where evictions, displacement and lack of affordability have become recurring problems. The lecture will provide an opportunity to reflect on housing activism in the UK - and internationally - and examine the strategies that have been devised to bring about change. It will consider the campaigns and mobilisations that have emerged to contest the top-down production of housing.

We have three confirmed authoritative and compelling speakers who will share their insights:

  • Glyn Robbins - Housing Campaigner and Writer 
  • Mara Ferreri - Editor, Radical Housing Journal 
  • Loretta Lees - Faculty Director, Boston University Initiative on Cities 

The lecture will take place virtually on Friday 21st October 2022 from 2pm to 3.30pm. Following this there will be some time for virtual networking. 

Tickets are now available for registration: 

  • Members are able to attend for free, but booking is required. 
  • Non-members can attend for the price of £35. 

The Autumn Lecture 2022 programme

  • Introductions and welcome: Emeritus Fellow, Tony Manzi
  • Presentations:
    • Glyn Robbins
    • Mara Ferreri 
    • Loretta Lees
  • Question and answer session
  • Networking 

How New York housing activists upended the landlord norms

Glyn Robbins

The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the deep-rooted links between poor housing and poor health, particularly for working class communities of colour, for whom the right to the city is systemically undermined by unaffordable, precarious and sub-standard housing. This paper examines these issues against the background of a grassroots movement against evictions in New York during 2021. It describes and discusses the organisation, tactics and strategies of that movement as it attempted to challenge the dominance and norms of the real estate industry. It suggests that the pandemic engendered a radical shift in the demands of tenant and housing justice organisations, which led to New York being virtually eviction free for 22-months. While this success partly arises from the particular circumstances of New York, it is argued that there are lessons to be learned for housing campaigns elsewhere. However, questions are raised about the extent to which “professionalised activism” represents a sustainable model and the capacity for local mobiisations to influence national political forces at a time of unprecedented volatility in an age of crisis capitalism.

Keywords: housing justice, New York, coronavirus, right to the city, crisis capitalism

About Glyn

Glyn Robbins has worked in, campaigned on and written about housing for 30 years. After managing an Islington TMO council estate for 10 years, in 2021 he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and spent six months attached to the City University of New York Graduate Centre, while researching tenant activism and property development patterns in the Bronx. Since returning, Glyn has worked as a Research Associate at the University of Sheffield's Urban Studies and Planning Department. 

The long legacy of short-life housing co-ops

Mara Ferreri 

In the search for more just housing futures, the notion of the commons has become a cipher of hope. The study of clearly defined housing typologies – e.g. ‘cooperative housing’ – however, often fails to account for the informal and fluid practices that constitute the emergence of alternatives through housing struggles. Understanding how mobilizations engender housing commons - open, decommodified and self-managed – requires engaging with the intersection of direct action, territorial coordination, institutional demands, policy shifts, and wider transformations in housing imaginaries and practices. This presentation draws on archival and contemporary research to revisit the little-known case of short-life co-operatives in 1970s London. As a low-cost, collectively managed alternative for tens of thousands of individuals, these co-ops also respond(ed) to the diverse inhabitation needs and desires articulated by women, LGBTQ+ and Black liberation struggles. Through a historical approach, this talk aims to offer insights into these movements’ material and symbolic legacy for organising against housing enclosures and for housing justice.

About Mara

Mara Ferreri is Assistant Professor in Economic and Political Geography, Senior Researcher on the ERC Inhabiting Radical Housing project and Core Team Member of the Beyond Inhabitation Lab at DIST ( Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning), Polytechnic and University of Turin, Italy. She is a founding editor of the Radical Housing Journal.

Fighting state-led gentrification in London: the story behind the precedent setting win at the Aylesbury Estate Public Inquiry

Loretta Lees

This paper discusses how a (predominantly BAME) community facing displacement, housing activists, academics and other professionals came together to gain a precedent setting win in the public inquiry into the demolition (and state-led gentrification) of the Aylesbury Estate in London. The planning inspector ruled and the Secretary of State confirmed that there would be too many negative impacts meaning that ‘a compelling case in the public interest had not been proved’. I reflect on how we worked together across the boundaries of lived experience, politics, research and the law, and on the value of this intersectionality in the on-going fight against gentrification in London and beyond.

Key words: gentrification, displacement, London, council estates, right to community

About Loretta

Loretta Lees has recently moved to the US to take up Director of the Initiative on Cities at Boston University and now divides her time between Boston and London. She has written about and fought against gentrification for over 25 years now. She has been involved in 3 public inquiries and various other anti-gentrification challenges in the UK and Europe more generally. She was Chair of the London Housing Panel for 2 years working with the Mayor of London and Trust for London. She is the recipient of the 2022 Urban Affairs Association Marilyn J. Gittell Scholar Activist Award.

Registration for this event has now closed. 

  1. Members are able to attend for free, but booking is required. 
  2. Non-members can attend for the price of £35. 

Non-members can join the HSA to access member rates. Membership prices are £25 for full membership, £11.50 for student membership, or £125 for lifetime membership. 

Find out more about membership and benefits of the Housing Studies Association. 

To book your place please use the booking form below. 

Terms & Condition's

  • Refunds for non-member tickets will be considered on a case by case basis, in the event of wishing to cancel your ticket please contact the organisers at [email protected]
  • Should the event be cancelled or postponed non-member tickets will be offered the chance to attend the alternative date or offered a refund. 

The Housing Studies Association (HSA) is a limited company registered in England and Wales under company number 13958843 at 42 Wellington Road, Greenfield, OL3 7AQ.
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