Cherwell

Open House group evicted from third building

Source: Rosalind Mitchell

The Open House group, which organises shelter, meals and training for homeless people, will be evicted from a third property in Oxford, it has been revealed.

Iffley Open House—also known as ‘Osney Open House’—have been squatting in an unused Italian restaurant in Summertown this month, but due to a court order the group must leave by 7 April.

Previously, members of the homeless group had been squatting in a former VW showroom in Iffley Road, owned by Wadham College, for two months. Oxford University students worked alongside local volunteers to aid the homeless residents.

However, the leaseholders of the ground floor of the building—The Midcounties Cooperative—issued a possession order to have the squatters evicted on February 27.

Before moving into the abandoned restaurant, the group were reportedly offered shelter at a church in East Oxford after they were forced to leave the Old Power Station in Osney.

The Old Power Station is owned by the University of Oxford, and the proposals for the Saïd Business School to lease the building from the University to help meet its requirements for more teaching space is thought to be the reason for the group being evicted.

As a result of their eviction from the power station, Oxford University students organised a protest outside the Saïd Business School in a bid to highlight the amount of empty buildings in the city. The demonstration, which took place in Frideswide Square, coincided with the business school’s third annual Oxford Real Estate Conference.

Speaking to the BBC, Iffley Open House member “Neo” commented on the latest developments: “It seems a shame to leave a building empty when there is an epidemic of homelessness in Oxford.

“A lot of these people—when they end up on the street—they’ve lost everything. And what you need to do is you need to build them up, get them back into work, [and] give them purpose.”

According to the group, two people have been re-housed and seven members have found jobs as a result of the project.

Open House have been contacted for comment.