After successfully seeing off an eviction last Tuesday, homeless people backed by the Manchester Activist Network (MAN) have made a callout for support in what they say is a “high alert period” in their fight to keep their Oxford Road site open as a centre for the city’s regular rough sleepers, the number of which has quadrupled since 2010 to a little under 200 on average.
The former Cornerhouse cinema, which is owned by Network Rail, is slated for eventual redevelopment but has been left vacant for the last two years. In a statement, the group said:
As the housing climate in Manchester is not changing, we’re maintaining our presence in the unused space to offer shelter, support and advice. The need for solutions to Manchester’s housing issues is our driving force, and claiming empty buildings is how we share the opportunity for people to come and get involved.
The future looks full of lost hope, with housing benefit cuts for under-25s, as many more face the uncertainty to find a property and afford to live without vital financial support.
On March 3rd the government laid regulations before parliament to remove the automatic entitlement to housing costs under Universal Credit for single people aged 18-21. It is expected to affect 1,000 young people in the first year, rising to 11,000 eventually.
Even those who work over 16 hours a week on low wage will struggle to pay for the increasing price of house rentals. In Britain 35,000 have been on the waiting list for over 10 years, and at present the reality of finding adequate housing fails for young people as the council decide priority based on “the rehousing bands.” Age restrictions can also reduce the priority for housing associations, making many of those facing homelessness vulnerable to the environment in the City’s hostels, or to sleep rough, if they are unable to find any alternative housing option.
Manchester Activist Network is here to make a stand against the increase of homelessness whilst the council is blinded by property developers who continue to expand into the market of luxury accommodation. In the past 18 weeks, we have taken direct action to create a community environment that allows for people to come together and mobilise around housing issues. This led to the six-week project Loose Space in the abandoned Cornerhouse Cinema, which has become a safe house for 30+ vulnerable homeless people. By providing shelter, warmth, clothes, food and drink, security, hygiene, advice, support, friendship and love, all for free.
To keep going forward, MAN need your support, donations and volunteers. Come down to the Cornerhouse or send a message us through the MAN Facebook page.
Whats needed: food / coffee and tea / milk / clothes: mens and women / shoes / toiletries: men and women / cleaning products / bedding / sheets / material / pens / paint / chalk / paper / cheap mobile phones with credit (if possible) / lap top / pallets / chains / sand & cement / angle grinder.