Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth is a group of families and individuals struggling with homelessness and other bad housing, such as severely overcrowded private rented housing. We support each other with our housing problems and we take action together for the safe, secure, good quality council homes we all need and deserve.
We have spoken about Coronavirus in our meetings and we know that our members are very concerned. Like with the housing crisis we face first hand, it is clear to us that the government are not taking the action needed to protect our communities. It’s important that we do not panic and that we act responsibly and carefully. During this pandemic, like with our housing problems, we are here to support each other with practical and emotional support and to build a collective response with demands and collective action (most likely online). We know that by looking out for each other and supporting each other we can bring about the positive changes that we need. Together we are stronger.
Information and resources
Health – Information in different languages from Doctors of the World about coronavirus and accessing medical help can be found here.
Safety – Advice on social distancing means that more people will need to stay in their homes. If you or any family member is made to feel afraid or is suffering abuse or harm by another family member, please do not suffer alone. Please speak to these professional services and ask for help. Solace is an English speaking organisation but can offer help over the phone in different languages with interpreters. Latin American Women’s Aid is a Spanish speaking organisation.
HASL – We are very sad that we will not be able to have our group meetings in coming months, but we will be discussing how we can continue to support each other and what additional support our members may need. We invite our members to get in contact with us about any concerns they have and ideas they have for supporting each other during these difficult times.
Work – Our members have spoken to us about concerns they have about their work, for example, work places closing, bosses ending contracts. Now is a good time to join a workers union such as United Voices of the World or IWGB so that you are able to learn your rights, access legal support, and the support of a union.
Our housing situations and coronavirus
Homelessness and bad housing affects our lives and our health daily. Bad housing is a public health crisis. The Coronavirus is also a public health crisis, so many of our members and others who are homeless or in bad housing suffer a double crisis. For those of us in bad housing, we are at even greater risk of the Coronavirus than those who are well housed. With small, overcrowded and shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, it is easier for the virus to spread and more difficult for people to ‘self-isolate’.
Hostels – many of our members are living in hostels where they share bathroom and kitchen facilities with other households
Severely overcrowded housing – our families live in tiny studio flats, single rooms or one bedroom flats.
Temporary accommodation – temporary accommodation is very insecure for its residents, it can be ended very quickly by the council. Temporary accommodation is often out of borough so households are taken away from vital support networks and face long commutes to their home borough on public transport.
Work and benefits – many of our members are in low-paid work and are worried about losing their jobs. Many work as cleaners where they are being pressured to work even harder. Many of our members also face benefit problems with Universal Credit.
Our demands on homelessness and housing
We have come up with some basic demands that we hope our local councils will work on, and that central government will implement. But ultimately, we know that it is up to all of us to make these happen!
no evictions – councils must reassure residents of temporary accommodation that they will not face eviction. Councils must also extend this to their council tenants as well. Councils must focus their resources on housing people not evicting people. End private sector evictions.
housing for homeless people – councils must do everything in their powers to house everyone who approaches as homeless into suitable, self-contained housing. There are plenty of empty homes in our neighbourhoods that must be used, including council estates facing demolition as well as new private housing developments standing empty.
measures and protections for those living in hostels – councils must put in additional health and safety measures for those living in hostels and communicate with these households to ask if they would prefer to be moved into self-contained housing
severely overcrowded households – offer the option of re-housing for severely overcrowded families into more suitable and spacious temporary accommodation or ensure that they have the correct priority on the housing waiting list if they wish to remain where they are.
housing benefit/ housing element of Universal Credit – these must cover the full rent for people of all ages – stop capping benefits!
communication – Southwark and Lambeth councils – please communicate with us about what support and measures are being put in place for households living in hostel accommodation, those in self-contained temporary accommodation and overcrowded housing so that we can communicate with our members.
In HASL, we will keep on finding ways to support each other and keep our group running even if we cannot meet face to face. The fight for good housing, welfare, migrants rights, workers rights, and good healthcare is more important than ever!