By Noy Shani
Mayoral candidate and Green Party member Rashid Nix reckons he has the winning formula to beat the London housing crisis.
Beaming with confidence in a recent talk in Denmark Hill, Southwark, Nix spoke enthusiastically about his mission.
“There is a link between mental health, mental well-being and housing. The plan is deliverable and has already stirred some interest,” he said.
The dreadlocked 49-year-old, who increased the Green Party’s support by 400 per cent in his constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood and finished within the top five per cent of Green Party candidates in the last general election, is no longer the ‘new kid on the block’.
He was removed from his estate in Brixton after ‘making some noise’ throughout the years and protesting alongside his fellow neighbours.
“They won’t stop me though. I kept coming back, it’s my neighbourhood,” he said emotionally.
In his speech, Nix reviewed the history of social housing in London and how, while it started positively by social reformers such as Octavia Hill in the 19th century, it was gradually relegated to conmen – landlords who ran estates “and only thought of their own pockets”, in his words.
And he even named his talk accordingly: ‘From Superwoman to Conmen – A Brief History of London’s Social housing’.
Former boxer and Sky Sports Pundit, Spencer Fearon opened the talking introducing Nix, however one of the most powerful dialogues of the day was about the practical plan – how to covert those promises and visions into actions and solve the ever existing housing crisis in the capital.
And that’s where Max Rengifo, director of Astudio, a Southwark-based architecture and consultancy firm fits.
“We need to actually stop for a minute and think what went wrong here,” he said.
According to Mr Rengifo, the code for sustainable homes has been abolished, meaning that architects and builders no longer need to comply with it, something he labelled as “crazy”.
He also compared creating of new homes to automobile manufacturing, and said: “In this industry, they do not just make one car after another, they apply economy of scale and it’s much more efficient.”
So what is the solution then?
Nix, Astudio and the Greens are looking at a completely radical shift in compare to the policies of the last few years. And according to Mr Rengifo, Nix is the first person who came to their office and actually said “I want to resolve the housing crisis.”
“Nobody else did it,” said the Venezuelan-born, who continued and gave example from South America, of how governments built half houses as people could not afford full ones.
“A half house designed well can be finished within five years’ time at your own pace and possibilities if all you can afford now is just that.”
Those plans are still in their nappies, however according to Mr Rengifo, a number of undisclosed London boroughs have already shown interest in Astudio’s proposal which has Mr Nix’s full support and endorsement.
“Thinking realistically, if we’re going to change the game, we need to start almost at practice. Let’s take 16 units and let’s see what happened with them and then the sky is the limit.”