An evening with Alan Johnson MP- previous event
Alan Johnson MP described the value and importance of social housing at an event organised by Octavia for tenants and local stakeholders.
Interviewed by Guardian journalist Hannah Pool on 2 April about his experiences of growing up in the Notting Hill area in social housing in the 1950s and 60s, Alan Johnson MP described the importance of a stable home.
“Housing associations saved us, they were the only ethical landlord at the time [1950's] – run on a basis of trying to help people rather than profit from them. There was no hope at all of getting your own home back then. There is an even bigger role for Housing associations like Octavia today.
Less than 50 years ago, the now famously vibrant and wealthy Notting Hill area was a very different place with pockets of squalor, racial tensions and poor conditions. Conditions that the Rt Honourable Alan Johnson MP grew up in.
A social housing tenant until his early adulthood, Alan Johnson MP grew up the Notting Hill area in a property once owned by the Rowe Housing Trust, an organisation which eventually became Octavia Housing. Alan quoted, ''Social class balance is important. Social housing maintains the social balance.''
As Octavia approaches its 150th year of providing affordable housing to those on low incomes, the event was organised for some of the almost 7,000 tenants that the organisation now houses. The event was held at the Tabernacle, in the midst of Notting Hill, where Octavia still own a large number of properties. Grahame Hindes, Chief Executive of Octavia said:
“We wanted to hold an event for local people to share their memories of the last 50 years. The area and especially property values have changed dramatically since the 1950s and 60s but the importance of affordable housing and the sense of community remains and is arguably more important than ever. Some of our tenants have spent their whole lives in the local area and have lived through a tremendous sense of change. They have been really inspired by the success story of Alan Johnson MP.”
A local tenant who attended the evening said, ''Housing associations have community life and the future of ordinary people in their hands. Don’t cave to pressure to sell valuable homes.''
Alan Johnson MP recalled how during his childhood up to 20 people per house shared a roof, often with families of 4 and over occupying 1 room. Not long before in the 1930’s, the houses in Southam Street, where Alan grew up, were condemned as unfit for human habitation yet families continued to live in the homes because private landlords of the time including the infamous Rackman, were driving prices up and forcing people to live in very deprived environments.
Alan also presented two ‘Inspiration Awards’ to two young people involved with Octavia’s sister charity, The Octavia Foundation for the contributions they have made to their local area.
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