HASL occupation of Lambeth town hall – social housing not social cleansing!

HASL occupy Lambeth town hall

HASL occupy Lambeth town hall

Pictures from today’s action on Flickr can be found here.

This afternoon around 30 HASL members visited Lambeth council’s town hall demanding ‘social housing not social cleansing’. The local housing group, made up of homeless and precariously housed people, visited the town hall in the half-term holiday with their children to give the council a sense of what temporary housing feels like: cramped, noisy, and disruptive!

We were joined in our occupation of the town hall’s lobby by Lambeth Pensioners’ Action Group taking our numbers to 50+! Our sister group Haringey Housing Action Group also organised an action in tandem with ours.

Lambeth council refused to meet with our group to speak with us about our concerns and shamefully called the cops to try and evict us. About 10 police came and harrassed our members. We have still not received a response to our letter to Lib Peck about our concerns about recent changes to the social housing register and new powers to force homeless people into the private sector – both of which make everyone’s access to social housing even more difficult. We will continue our campaign on these issues and continue informing people of their rights if they are being pressured into the private sector. See our new leaflet here.

The action is one of many happening across London as part of the Radical Housing Network’s week of action.

Massive thanks to everyone who joined us today!

More info on why we were there…

HASL are protesting at Lambeth council’s use of the Localism Act to push homeless people into the private sector and at changes to the social housing allocations policy which de-link social housing from housing need. Members of HASL in temporary accommodation have experienced bullying from Lambeth housing office to find themselves accommodation in the private rented sector. They also saw their position on the social housing register decrease by a band as homelessness has been de-prioritised for social housing, even though they are desperately in need of secure housing.

Private rented accommodation is completely inappropriate housing, particularly for those who have already experienced homelessness – it is expensive, poor-quality, insecure, and often only ‘affordable’ out of London and the south of England. The private rented sector is the biggest cause of homelessness. Lambeth council should not be forcing homeless people into housing, outside of their communities, which will make them homeless again. They should not be making social housing more difficult for everyone to access, which is what changes to their social housing allocations policy has done.

The group are also concerned about people increasingly being housed in poor-quality temporary housing outside the borough away from schools, community and support networks.

Liz Wyatt, a member of HASL said: “Lambeth had the choice whether to use it’s new powers in the Localism Act to make homeless people’s lives even more difficult and undermine everyone’s access to social housing. It made the wrong choice and has implemented yet more housing policies which go against homeless and precariously housed people in the borough. We’re here to demand that Lambeth council stop socially cleansing its residents by forcing people into the private rented sector. We all need quality, secure, social housing and the council should be doing everything it can do ensure this.

“The Focus E15 mums campaign in east London saw them successfully resist being forced to Manchester, Birmingham and Hastings by Newham council. We plan do the same here in Lambeth and resist social cleansing with collective action. Our group has already had a number of successes in securing housing for our members.”

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