Today, Lambeth Housing Activists and members of HASL attempted to meet Lambeth Council Leader Lib Peck to discuss the homelessness of local disabled man Gustavo Garcia. Lib Peck was unable to meet with us and was instead bundled away from protesters by security, entering the Town Hall through a side entrance along with Lambeth’s Mayor.
Gustavo Garcia has lived in Brixton for 18 years. Last year he became homeless after suffering a stroke which caused him to become unemployed and so couldn’t afford his rent. His landlord would not accept housing benefit and evicted him. The stroke caused memory loss and physical weakness, and has also led to severe depression.
Gustavo now faces the threat of life on the streets as Lambeth are refusing to let him stay in their temporary accommodation stating he is not in ‘priority need’ so he is not their problem.
The right side of his body is now numb and much weaker and he cannot do the things he used to. His previous job as a window cleaner fills him with fear as he doesn’t have grip in his right hand, so climbing ladders and working at great heights is dangerous for him. He is shaky. This in itself is hard enough to cope with, but his memory loss has also caused him much distress and disorientation. Gustavo came here from Ecuador eighteen years ago, and is now a British citizen. He spoke fluent English prior to his stroke, but the memory loss caused by the stroke means he has forgotten a good deal of the language. “I feel so alone. I can’t sleep at all. I’m always worrying, afraid of being put on the street” he told us.
This is the inhuman face of the housing crisis as Councils ration an ever shrinking number of council flats and manage London’s housing crisis by putting vulnerable people on the streets.
- That Council leader Lib Peck meet with Gustavo and his supporters this week
- That Gustavo be housed in Lambeth where his support networks exist. That if private, this accommodation must be affordable on Gustavo’s income and be secured for a minimum of two years and that access to a rent deposit scheme is offered.