UPDATE ON THIS CASE:
Our member and her baby fear eviction this week by Southwark council. H and her baby have lived in a single room in a hostel provided by Southwark council for 18 months. For H’s baby, this room has been the only home she has ever known. Having seemingly been forgotten in this hostel, we contacted the council to request suitable housing for the family (this was even more urgent after there was an incident at the hostel where a male resident was threatening towards H and her baby). The council’s response was to say that they would be evicting the family and that they must go to Nottingham where they say she has a ‘local connection’, despite them having lived here for 18 months and having vital community and support networks here.
This treatment of H and her baby cannot go on. The council must contact H and HASL immediately to confirm that she has a homeless duty with Southwark and to provide her with safe and suitable temporary accommodation. H has faced enormous stress and anxiety over the last month on top of the mental and physical ill health her and her baby have suffered in this unsuitable housing. The family need security, peace of mind, and suitable housing immediately.
One of our members H, who is a refugee with a one year old daughter, was facing ‘immediate’ eviction by Southwark council from temporary housing. H and her baby have been in Southwark council’s hostel accommodation for 1 year and 5 months.
For now, after we emailed and tweeted the council over our concern about the imminent eviction, she has been given 4 more weeks in the temporary accommodation. But instead of forcing her out in 4 weeks time, the council must accept that she has a local connection to Southwark and they must give her suitable temporary accommodation, and allow her to bid for council housing. H and her daughter need peace of mind and security after the incredibly stressful eviction threat and the unacceptable time they have spent in hostel accommodation.
When we first met H, she explained to us the terrible effects for her and her baby of living in hostel accommodation for the last 17 months. Her baby didn’t have enough space to learn to walk and H herself struggled with being confined to a single room for eating, sleeping and living. We decided we would contact the council to request that they provide the family with suitable temporary accommodation in a flat.
The council replied to our request for an urgent move from the hostel and into suitable temporary accommodation by saying that H did have a homeless duty but that her ‘local connection’ was with Notthingham council.
H made a homeless assessment with Southwark council because this is where her home is. Her baby has only ever lived in Southwark. The family have lived here for the last 1 year and 5 months in hostel accommodation. It is clear that their local connection is Southwark.
Instead of evicting the family and forcing them to Nottingham, Southwark council must accept that H has a full homeless duty with them and they must provide her with suitable temporary housing. This must be done as soon as possible so that the family are housed in safe and suitable accommodation and have some security over their future, instead of the fear that they currently feel.
The handling of this case by Southwark council has caused H enormous stress. She does not have English as her first language so communicating with her about it is very difficult. The council have not taken this into account, nor the family’s significant welfare needs and vulnerabilities, instead opting for a quick eviction of this vulnerable family. Southwark council must support their vulnerable residents, not shift responsibility by evicting them out of the borough.