Members of HASL, Unite Community and Lambeth Housing Activists are celebrating today as the campaign to win accommodation for Gustavo Garcia, whose circumstances we blogged about previously, has finally been deemed vulnerable by the council and so qualifies for housing under priority need. Only a day before news of this success arrived, Lambeth’s cabinet member for housing – Matthew Bennett – wrote to HASL stating that whilst he “was very concerned from your email to learn that [Gustavo] had suffered a stroke and lost his job” it remained the case that Gustavo didn’t “qualify as being in “priority” need under the homelessness legislation that would see Mr Garcia housed in temporary accommodation”.
What a difference a day makes.
This u-turn by the council shows us two things. First, that priority need is political. Second, despite pursuing every legal route with help of the very good solicitors at Lambeth Law Centre, it was protest and public pressure that in the end got the goods!
Gustavo and his supporters will be celebrating this victory at our next solidarity kitchen (details to follow). We would like to extend an invitation Lambeth’s new ‘advocate for housing rights’, Cllr Mathew Bennett, who, as this example shows, has clearly championed the cause of equality and access to shelter in his borough.
The fight continues – we need to ensure Gustavo is given decent affordable accommodation in the borough, something we are demand for all!
Everyone is priority need!