The Truth Behind London’s Housing Crisis
Last week, UK police and bailiffs descended on Brixton to evict a community of squatters. However, when they arrived on Rushcroft Road and poured through the six buildings owned by Lambeth Local Authority, they found the properties empty and abandoned. “Most of the people left over the weekend,” explained one resident, hurriedly loading their belongings into a van a few hours before the eviction teams arrived. “They were scared they might have a another ‘Clifton Mansions’ on their hands.”
Located on nearby Coldharbour Lane, Clifton Mansions used to be one of London’s most famous squats. Once derelict council property, squatters first occupied its 22 flats in the 1990s, turning them into a de-facto cultural center that apparently provided the artist Jeremy Deller and Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan with temporary shelter. Condemned by the council for “anti-social behavior” and sold off to a private company, ten van-loads of police assisted in evicting its residents in July 2011. The building was converted into luxury apartments, some of which are currently fetching rents of $820 per week.
Today, the memory of this—as well as the chaos of Clifton Mansions’ “leaving party”—has ostensibly driven out many of Rushcroft’s residents before the death knell. Clifton Mansions’ final bash had been intended as a swansong to its legacy. What unfolded, however, was an over-attended party that descended into gate-crashers urinating from the roof and others attempting to strip the building of valuable copper piping. One man was also assaulted and robbed by strangers.
The Clifton Mansions leaving party. Photo via urban75.com/brixtonbuzz.com.
In a written press release, Lambeth’s cabinet for housing councillor Peter Robbins was unapologetic about evicting the residents of Ruschcroft Road.
“We are taking this action because it is unfair on the thousands of residents in need of housing in Lambeth that a small minority are unlawfully squatting in six mansion blocks on Rushcroft Road and not paying any rent or council tax,” he said.
Tao Lin’s Apartment: A Review, by Megan Boyle
Last October Tao Lin, my ex-husband, put up a post on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to sublet his studio apartment in Murray Hill while he visited family in Taiwan. I responded and PayPal-ed him the significantly discounted friend-rate. I would be staying around four weeks. I had visited Tao’s apartment maybe four times prior and had seen photos on Instagram—darkly lit areas, occult-looking décor, some Buddhist imagery, Adderall taped to the ceiling as a form of rehab, and curiously frequent “smoothie disasters.” I was excited to live alone in Manhattan. I was also excited to hopefully gain insight into the private life of a person I’ve admired both up close and at a distance for years—the kind of insight that can only come from sleeping in their bed and looking at their things every day for around four weeks when they’re not there. That sounds kind of creepy. Here is my review of Tao Lin’s apartment.
The Hanging Thing
When I moved in the giant structure formerly hanging above Tao’s bed was gone. I’d previously seen it in person twice, at sort-of parties, at which I felt surprised by how little attention it was getting. People seemed to treat it like any other passive obstruction. I don’t have memories of asking what it was or why it was there. I’m guessing its materials (Christmas lights, tinsel, black and white cobwebby stuff) were bought or stolen by Tao and his friend* Katie DeMoss from NutHouse, which is across the street and calls itself “New York’s Only 24-Hour Hardware Store.” Sometimes in conversational lulls at a party this December my eyes would wander around the room and land on the hanging thing. The ease at which I could allow such an overwhelmingly insane-looking thing to blend into my idea of “normal party surroundings” combined with knowing it was among the only other not-talking things in the room seemed funny. I’m not sure I’m glad it was gone when I arrived.
- Only one out of four light switches work.
- Two out of three bulbs in his main lamp are white. One is red.
- There is one light in the bathroom. It is red but glows pink and affects the color of your pee.