Shock eviction of Cornerhouse centre puts 20 people on streets

Homeless people rounded on Andy Burnham’s Labour administation in Manchester today after 20 people were rousted out of the well-regarded Cornerhouse squatted centre in an early-morning raid.

Manchester Activist Network, which has been heavily involved in the space, said today they will be looking to hold highly-paid council bosses to account for promises made during Mayor Burnham’s election campaign in May that his team would “end rough sleeping by 2020”:

Well done Andy Burnham and Manchester Council. Help end rough sleeping by 2020? Don’t you mean make 20 more people street homeless? Where’s the promises now eh? Spineless.

The dynamic entry assault came out of the blue as members of the self-organised homeless squat and social centre were planning the first screenings of a documentary on the outstanding grassroots work which has been done by Cornerhouse and the Manchester Activist Network this year.

Established in a former arts centre that had been empty for the previous two years, which is owned by Network Rail, Cornerhouse was one of the most successful self-organised street homeless projects of recent years, providing both housing and a community arts space for most of 2017.

At its height,the organising group was able to co-ordinate with a second larger residential squat, Hotspur Press, which was itself evicted last month — meaning that in the first three months of the new administation taking power pledging to end Manchester’s street homeless crisis around 60 people have been pushed back into street homelessness.

Squatters were highly sceptical of headlines from Burnham about “putting promises into action” over reducing homelessness when he took power on May 8th this year, but had made an effort to engage with his agenda, suggesting that he come and visit Cornerhouse to hear direct from people at the sharp end about what’s actually needed.

Burnham never made it down to the centre, just round the corner from Oxford Road Station, and has so far failed to respond to either eviction, though he had plenty of time on August 1st to wander around Machester city centre and put out a vague charity appeal to “end rough sleeping by 2020.”

Update: Talking to Freedom News, MAN organisers David Blaine and Nick Napier said:

We’re sitting down with our family from the Cornerhouse after our rude awakening this morning, 20 people with whom we are now once again street homeless and pondering, what do we do now?

“I pledge to end rough sleeping by 2020,” that was your promise to the people of Manchester Andy Burnham. That number seems to be very relevant today, 20 more people on the street sleeping rough, 20 more victims, 20 more statistics, 20 more possible deaths on your hands caused by your empty promises.

You won an election on the back of victims like those evicted today and who you failed to support. For seven months the Cornerhouse was a safe haven for those neglected by you and your council, after several face-to-face meetings, at the Cornerhouse, your hustings, your events on housing, your Q&As, your national news articles, your glossy photo opportunities, you know the truth, you know our situation, you said that you understood and you said that you cared.

Your colleagues Paul Dennett, Beth Knowles and Ivan Lewis MP all knew the truth and wanted to come and see the community that we had built. You wanted to witness the truth. Where were you Andy? Where was your support? Your words and promises are empty. Empty just like the buildings that we occupy, just like the buildings YOU asked for! It was less than £30 to lease our building, your mayoral fund was set up for this.

Its time to stop the BS Andy, no more messing around. The next building we take and those we support in it will require your help Andy Burnham, no more passing the buck, no more UK evictions, no more court cases. #housingisahumanright, #housingfirst and for this we will stand and make a fight,  #nomoredeathsonourstreets.