This afternoon, members of HASL went down to Lambeth Council’s housing office in Brixton to talk to people there about their housing problems and find out what kind of help (if any) they were getting from the council.
One person we met was E, who has a 7 year old daughter and is almost five months pregnant. Ten days ago she, her partner and her daughter were evicted by Metropolitan Housing Association from their home on Lambeth’s Clapham Park estate so that they could demolish it.
The council refused to help the family until they were actually homeless (even though they could have done so four weeks beforehand) and they have already been shunted around temporary accommodation in two different locations in south London. Today E was told that the only accommodation available from tonight is bed and breakfast accommodation miles away in Hackney. The family are being told to stay their indefinitely.
E works night shifts in Camberwell and her daughter goes to school in Clapham. Finishing work at 8am, it will be impossible for E to get to Hackney to pick up her daughter and get her to school anywhere near on time, meaning disruption to her education. Apart from this, the massive stress the whole situation is causing risks damaging the health of E’s unborn child.
We joined E to challenge the staff in the housing office on their decision to send the family to Hackney and ask how E’s daughter was supposed to get to school. The council officers we spoke to had no answers to this, but were adamant that they had nowhere suitable to house the family. They added that if E didn’t take the B&B accommodation on offer, the would provide no further help.
HASL will be supporting E and her family to demand suitable permanent accommodation which is close enough to E’s place of work and her daughter’s school, and will be discussing what further action to take at our meeting on Wednesday if the situation has not been resolved by then.