It’s been another busy year of housing support and action in south London! Together we have won better housing, including council housing with our members, we have helped each other to enforce our housing rights, we have provided vital moral and practical support for each other, we have helped our group to grow and meet more people, and campaigned for the good quality, safe, secure council homes we all need and deserve!
As well as our 2 regular meetings each month attended by 50-100 plus people, we’ve also organised protests, run workshops, helped to start a new housing support group, started a film project, and helped to put together legal challenges against unjust council policies.
Thank you to all our members and supporters for all your time, effort, determination and commitment. We couldn’t have achieved these things without you! You have helped us to build a strong solidarity network across south London where we learn our rights, support each other, and win together.
We know that in 2020 fighting for housing and migrant rights and against poverty and other injustices will be more challenging than ever, but we know that together we are stronger!
We’ve already got lots of plans for 2020! We look forward to seeing you in the new year!
Here are just some of the things we got up this year (we haven’t included all successes and our day to day activities, such as buddying to the housing office, the referrals to lawyers, small group planning meetings, etc, as it would be too long!)
We protested at Southwark council town hall about their poor treatment of homeless survivors of domestic violence. We are continuing to support our members with their cases and we will be writing a more detailed blog on Southwark council’s treatment and failures of survivors of domestic violence in the new year.
We organised a HASL group training and banner painting session. The group training session was to reflect on how the group works and share ideas, plans and skills for running the group so that more people can be actively involved. One of our long-term members explained “We do everything from the heart and it is very beautiful” We also organised protests and painted banners. One of our members brought cake to celebrate her new council home.
Over 50 of our members joined our A Home Close to School protest at Southwark council town hall in support of 4 of our members who had been housed in temporary accommodation far away from Southwark. This was our strongest and loudest protest to date and it resulted in the manager of housing coming to speak directly to us and guaranteeing he would look into the cases we were raising. Southwark News article here and another article here In May, the families were finally moved back to their home borough!
We joined Aylesbury residents protesting about their broken heating system and the council’s purposeful disrepair of the estate. There is a video of the protest here.
We helped 2 members to stop their evictions from temporary accommodation for rent arrears caused by problems with Universal Credit.
Don’t kick us off the waiting list! After our Southwark protests the previous months, we organised a protest against Lambeth council’s cruel and discriminatory policy of kicking homeless families out of the borough and then removing them from the housing waiting list. At our protest in Lambeth Civic Centre we met other people in the waiting room who had been removed from the waiting list and they joined our protest.
One of our members was awarded £2,700 in compensation from the Local Government Ombudsman for Southwark council’s mishandling of her housing case.
We organised a small workshop for our members who had recently moved into new council homes to talk about their new rights as council tenants. One of our members said: “I wouldn’t have this home if it wasn’t for you. We would be in the same situation as before, nothing would have changed.”
We visited Liz Atkinson’s children’s centre in Brixton to talk with the women who attend the centre about housing rights.
We helped our member, a survivor of domestic violence, to challenge the gatekeeping she faced by Southwark council and get temporary accommodation for her and her family.
We ran a housing rights workshop with Surrey Square primary school and spoke with the parents about the housing issues they are facing and what their legal rights are, and of course, how we support each other and campaign together.
We ran a housing rights workshop with our friends English for Action and this resulted in the start of a new housing support group in Southwark with English for Action students!
We ran a workshop on organising collective support and action at Mayday rooms as part of the Anarchist Festival. A number of people who attended the workshop have since become involved with HASL.
Our member V is a survivor of domestic violence who also suffers from a number of serious medical issues that her tiny studio flat was making worse. With help from our friends Public Interest Law Centre, we helped her to challenge Lambeth council’s decision that she did not qualify for band B for medical reasons.In October our member signed a tenancy for her new council home.
One of our members received an accelerated possession order. Due to the tight deadline, we helped to fill in the defense and find lawyers to take on her case. She was able to successfully stop the eviction attempt by her private landlord.
Our HASL summer picnic in Burgess Park
We helped to stop another eviction from temporary accommodation.
Our regular Saturday meeting had a lot of victories! Including 3 people who had achieved their correct banding on the housing register (after being wrongly refused by their councils) and another family who had moved from B&B housing into self-contained temporary accommodation back in their home borough. Another family had recently successfully bid on a housing association home.
Surprise birthday celebrations!
We sent an open letter to Southwark councillor Kieron Williams about Southwark councils treatment of overcrowded families. We’re still waiting for an answer. We’ve also written a blog post here and we are working on legal routes and planning more campaigning on this important issue.
HASL members spoke at the Haldane Society talk ‘Abolish section 21: restructuring renting or technocratic tinkering’ on our experiences of private renting and section 21.
We organised an EU Settlement Scheme workshop with Public Interest Law Centre to support people making the application and we organised a follow up workshop the following week.
We’re proud to sign and support this open letter by our friends Public Interest Law Centre calling on London councils to protect the rights of migrant rough sleepers.
Inside Housing published an article on Lambeth council legal challenge
We attended the brilliant Reb Law conference and spoke on a panel: (Un)intentionally homeless: challenging bad housing decisions with housing lawyers and a housing barrister.
One of our Southwark overcrowding legal challenges that Public Interest Law Centre took on was successful.
Our member Nelcy on strike for better conditions at her workplace with her union IWGB. HASL members joined Nelcy and IWGB on the strike and protest march through University College London.
With the help of GT Stewart solicitors, our member successfully challenges Southwark council over her unsuitable temporary accommodation. We hope our member will be re-housed back in her home borough of Southwark very soon.
Our end of year party! Thanks so much to everyone who attended and helped us to celebrate all our achievements this year. It was a much needed event after the General Election result and the HASL kids made some amazing banners about housing and migrant rights so that we are well prepared for 2020!