Throughout 2014, as we've organised our own community union and launched our own fight for housing justice, we've been constantly inspired by the battle waged by the tenants of the New Era Estate in London.
The 96 families of the New Estate were expecting to be evicted after fighting a David VS Goliath battle with their multi-billionaire, transnational landlord to prevent massive rent rises. But now, they've won a total victory!
Many of the families have lived there all their lives. But when the estate was sold to US equity firm Westbrook Partners and a partner company owned by UK MP Richard Benyon they were told rents would double. No doubt, they would have no way to stay, and nowhere to go.
But they fought back. Their campaign gained the support of 350,000 people, including the equally amazing Focus E15 Mums and comedian Russell Brand. When Benyons company pulled out, Westbrook retaliated by sending every family an eviction notice. But they kept fighting, and now... they have won.
It shows what we can do when our communities get organised.
And if you want to know what that means, we couldn't agree more with the advice given by the New Era leaders in this video:
Last week ACORN stopped another illegal eviction here in Bristol, preventing three people being put out on the street a week before Christmas. Since being formed in May, members of ACORN Easton have won thousands of pounds in rent reductions and repairs and prevented evictions. We've got the ear of landlords, letting agents, charities, unions and politicians. We've also seen communities in London and Edinburgh join our fast growing community union, winning cleaner neighbourhoods and safer traffic, and people in Newcastle and Birmingham are set to join us soon.
But the fight to improve our quality of life, keep a (dry & affordable) roof over our heads and win back some power in our country is a long term one, with plenty more battles along the way.
The New Era residents will need to stay organised and keep a sharp eye on their new landlords. And we in ACORN all need to be ready to continue defending our friends and neighbours (people like Jacqui - she won repairs with an ACORN action, but now the damp has come back and her landlord is playing games!).
The residents of the New Era Estate will be celebrating tonight, and rightly so!
They have showed us all that if we get organised and stand up for our communities, even the richest, most powerful corporation can be beaten. If that's the case, then we'll sure as hell beat dodgy local landlords, and we'll win Jacqui's repairs and in 2015 we will make waves by finally building a community union across the UK that can not only defend our members, but start to set the agenda.
We want to take this opportunity say thank you to everyone who has joined, supported and got active in ACORN in 2014. It's been great getting to know you all and campaigning alongside you. And so we thought we'd share a little Xmas pressie.... Click here to check out the new video of our ACORN Housing Horror Halloween Protest!
On behalf of Immy, Maria, Mat and all the ACORN Easton activists, and from Nick, Louie, Stu and all the ACORN Organising Team,
P.S. We're having some trouble with our online membership page, but if you want to chip in a few £'s and join 150 of your neighbours as full members of your union you still can! Click here to contact us and we'll sort you out :) See you next year!