Category Archives: Action call out

21st November – legal challenge to government deportation of EU nationals who are rough sleeping

homesNOTborders

On Tuesday 21st November, a legal challenge launched by North East London Migrant Action and the Public Interest Law Unit will take on the government’s racist policy of detaining and deporting EU / EEA nationals who are rough sleeping.

Migrant and housing groups will holding a demonstration outside the Royal Courts of Justice to show our support for those taking this legal challenge and everyone affected by this cruel and hateful policy. We need homes not borders! Let’s show the Home Office and the judge the widespread opposition to their inhumane ‘hostile environment’ policies.

Join North East London Migrant Action, SOAS Detainee Support, us, and others outside the Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand, 9am-12pm on Tuesday 21st November. Join and share the facebook event here.

Read more about the racist removals of EU nationals in Corporate Watch’s report from earlier this year.

Listen to people directly affected by this policy in this short video.

Support and action beyond the legal challenge 

North East London Migrant Action have been co-ordinating solidarity and resistance to these racist removals. Their are lots of ways to show practical support and challenge those implementing this policy.

Legal clinic – NELMA and Public Interest Law Unit run a regular legal clinic for those affected by this policy to get legal advice and help. Please let people who may be affected by this policy know about the clinic. Leaflets in different languages can be found here.

Know Your Rights fact sheetImportant information for those affected by this policy produced in different languages by NELMA. Can you help distribute this information to those who need it?

Challenging those implementing the policy – Homeless charities (St Mungos, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live) and local councils are collaborating with the Home Office to detain and deport EU nationals who are rough sleeping. There have been poster campaigns and twitter storms to highlight their complicity and call for them to cut the collaboration.

Want to get involved? Contact NELMA or your local housing/migrant support group.

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Southwark council decide DV survivor can be street homeless – Stand up to Southwark council!

Update today, cllr for Housing Stephanie Cryan responded to our email saying that they are looking for private accommodation for C. We have responded that this is unacceptable. We will not let Southwark council avoid a homelessness duty to C with an offer of insecure, unaffordable private rented accommodation. Forcing homeless people into the homelessness-generating private sector is not a solution. Homeless people, particularly survivors of domestic violence, need the security of council housing. We reiterate our request that the council reverse their cruel and harmful decision not to accept a full homeless duty towards C and we invite you to support our demand (see below).

We are deeply concerned and distressed that our member C, who is a survivor of long term domestic abuse which has left her with post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety, panic attacks and other medical issues, has been deemed not in priority need and therefore able to live on the streets by Southwark council yesterday.

We are calling on Southwark to immediately reverse this decision, accept a full homeless duty to C and ensure that she has suitable temporary accommodation in Peckham where she has important family connections. Please join us in tweeting the council @lb_southwark and the councillor for housing @steviecryan to show your support for C.

The new vulnerability test used by councils to decide whether someone is vulnerable enough to be deemed ‘priority need’ – and therefore owed a full homeless duty if other criteria are met as well – looks at whether the applicant would suffer significantly more than ‘an ordinary person’ if they were faced with street homelessness. Clearly our member C, who suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome caused by many years of domestic abuse, would suffer more than an ‘ordinary person’ if she is forced into street homelessness, which is a very real threat. (Although obviously there are clear problems with this test as no one should be forced into street homelessness.)

We are shocked that the council found otherwise, and we are deeply concerned at some of the reasons they gave in deciding that C can live on the streets – they literally say she has the ‘skills’ to deal with street homelessness. Here are some of the statements made by the housing officer when coming to the decision. C’s attempts to get on with her life, and her vital support networks, are used against her as proof by the housing officer that she can cope with homelessness with statements such as – you made an ESA application, therefore you can live on the streets, you made this homeless application, therefore you can live on the streets. As well as these ridiculous conclusions, there is also a deep lack of understanding of vulnerability (having good mobility and literacy skills are used as evidence that she is not vulnerable) and the daily struggle many survivors experience in dealing with domestic violence. These are just some of the hurtful statements contained in the letter that C read yesterday. (our bold and italics)

This Authority understands that you were naturally adversely affected by your experiences as the victim of domestic abuse. However we are of the opinion that your experiences have not prevented you from managing your affairs and accessing relevant services and support from friends and professionals organisations…As a result, we are satisfied that your medical and social issues have not prevented you from undertaking most everyday tasks. It is therefore considered that you have the ability and skills to cope in your situation of homelessness.”

It is the Council’s opinion that you are not vulnerable as a result of your medical condition or your history of domestic violence. We have considered that these circumstances do not significantly impede your normal function or impair your ability to manage your daily tasks, including using public transport, shopping, cooking and managing your health and finances.”

We are also concerned that when C went for her homelessness interview last month, she was denied her supporter that she requested attend with her. Again highlighting how Southwark council have failed to support the interests and well being of survivors. It is likely that the absence of a supporter would have made the interview more difficult for C.

Last month, with the support of South East London Sisters Uncut we highlighted Southwark’s poor treatment of DV survivors with our member S. Southwark council reversed their decision as a result of public pressure on twitter and promised to investigate and produce a policy to ensure that DV survivors receive adequate support and treatment through the difficult homeless application process. But we have not heard anything from Southwark council about this, and yesterday’s decision clearly shows that staff urgently need training on understanding domestic violence and its impact on survivors’ lives.

We will be supporting C to review the council’s decision, but we also believe it is unfair and detrimental to her well being that she should be made to go through this difficult process. We hope that Southwark will take immediate action to reverse the decision.

Demanding Answers from Lib Peck & Lambeth Council – Take Online Action

Yesterday, we shared the story of one of our members – Mary Luz and her family – have been facing to get social housing from Lambeth council that they should have provided them with back in May 2015, as well as some answers and accountability for the poor treatment and neglect Mary Luz has faced at the housing office. Housing staff and Lambeth council leader, Lib Peck, are refusing to support Mary Luz with either of these urgent actions. We are deeply concerned at Lambeth’s treatment of our member and will continue to act in support of Mary Luz and her family until they are given the suitable, local, social housing they desperately need. Please do read the full account of her situation here.

So, we’re asking for your help. Every attempt to make Lambeth Council accountable for their actions so far has been met with misdirection and an unwillingness to justify or explain their actions.  We’re hoping that if we can demonstrate just how many of us find this kind of treatment intolerable, we can convince Lambeth Council to take notice of this serious case, and hopefully the huge number of similar cases we know others are facing.

Join us this Monday 4th April in creating a Twitter and email storm between 10am-12pm (but feel free to start before and continue after!). We’re asking people to Tweet Lib Peck (@cllrpeck) and Lambeth Council (@lambeth_council). We’re using the hashtag #AnswersAndAction to help keep a track of them. We’ve included some sample tweets below which will easily allow you to register your frustration and anger:

#AnswersAndAction – Sample Tweet 1

#AnswersAndAction – Sample Tweet 2

#AnswersAndAction – Sample Tweet 3

We’d also like people to email Lib Peck and Chris Knaggs demanding answers. You can reach them at lpeck@lambeth.gov.uk and cknaggs@lambeth.gov.uk – we’d also invite people to cc us in to your emails using hasemail@gmail.com. We’ve drafted a template email at the end of this blogpost that you can send . Again, please feel free to amend or adjust as suits you, but if you wish to write your own email, please do make sure you check the link to the full account of Mary-Luz’s case first.

We hope that Lib Peck and Lambeth Council will respond. We will be showing our support for Mary Luz and her family with an action outside Olive Morris House this Thursday 7th April meeting there at 2pm. Bring things to make noise with! Children very welcome too – we’ll be planning some kids activities!

Sample Email

To: lpeck@lambeth.gov.uk, cknaggs@lambeth.gov.uk, haslemail@gmail.com

Subject: Why is Mary Luz and her family suffering from Lambeth’s neglect?

I’m writing to you today out of concern for Mary Luz and her family, who faced gatekeeping by Lambeth Council which had extremely serious consequences and then were housed out-of-borough in unsuitable temporary accommodation far away from school, local doctors and support networks.

It has been almost a year since Mary Luz first approached Lambeth Council for housing assistance and was unlawfully turned away. Her family were living in severely overcrowded and unsuitable housing. Mary Luz deserves answers for this treatment, and I believe she has a right to hear them. I would like answers to the following questions.

Why did Lib Peck / Lambeth Council not take seriously the neglect by her staff that Mary Luz experienced at the housing office, Why did she not feel the need to make enquiries into the complaints and issues we have raised, and why is she not acting to make sure the family have the suitable local housing they need?

Is Lib Peck / Lambeth Council satisfied with the actions of housing staff who unlawfully gatekept Mary Luz, and which resulted in Mary Luz facing actual physical harm in the unsuitable housing that Lambeth staff sent her to return to?

Is Lib Peck / Lambeth Council satisfied with the decision to house the family out of their home borough in unsuitable temporary accommodation (Mary Luz is registered as blind and has been sent to an area she does not know, and the welfare and schooling of her children has not been taken into consideration either) when they should have been given local social housing back in May last year?

Is Lib Peck / Lambeth Council satisfied with the housing office’s failure to properly open up a homeless application and to do a proper assessment regarding the suitability of temporary accommodation?

I look forward to hearing your response.

Stop another social housing sell off! Join our twitter storm this Friday.

This Friday, housing associations will vote on whether to go ahead with selling off their/our social housing under an extended Right to Buy. Only, the decision has been made already. Either housing associations vote YES and allow their social housing stock to be sold off, or the government plans to push this Right to Buy of Housing Association homes through Parliament.

Thatcher’s original Right to Buy decimated social housing, contributing to the huge housing crisis we now face. There is massive demand for quality, secure, social housing but housing associations and the government are looking to sell-off the little we have left.

As a group of homeless people, badly and precariously housed people, and social housing tenants, this proposed sell-off affects us all. We totally oppose any sell-off of social housing. Many of us are in desperate need of quality, secure, social housing in our communities.

As part of these plans, the discount given to tenants to buy their housing association home will be paid for by the sell-off of COUNCIL HOUSING. We expect that council housing in Lambeth and Southwark (areas that now have become incredibly valuable) will be under threat for selling off to pay for discounts to help with the sell-off of housing association homes. This means more social cleansing as council homes in high value areas will be lost – meaning poor people can no longer live here.

We probably can’t stop the housing associations voting YES this Friday, lots of them have made their minds up already – but we will continue to organise, take action, and make our voices heard in our communities to make the sell-off as difficult as possible.

Twitter storm this Friday anyone? Are you a social housing tenant or someone in housing need? Angry at social cleansing and profiteering private landlords? Why not let your council and the housing associations know your opposition to the Housing Association Right to Buy this Friday as the Housing Associations go to vote. You can contact them on social media, and be sure to include us @housingactionsl.

Call Out: Eviction Resistance on Friday!

URGENT UPDATE: This resistance has been called off as the Possession Order has been withdrawn – for now. Please keep an eye out for updates on this ongoing situation.

We’re currently seeking legal support to try and stop the eviction of a pregnant mum and her young daughter by Southwark Council, but if this doesn’t work, we’ll be resisting the eviction this Friday morning – meeting together at 10:30am at Dean’s Buildings, SE17 1RE (at the end of the road where Dean’s Buildings meets Orb Street)

Untitled

Check back on Thursday afternoon to see whether or not we’ll need to resist the bailiffs on Friday. We’ll also be sending a call out via text message on our eviction resistance phone tree –which you can  join here – and keeping people updated on our website and social media.

Lambeth council – urgent action needed

Dear Lambeth council, Leader of Lambeth council Lib Peck, Councillor Jim Dickson Cabinet Member for Health and Well-being, Councillor Mohammed Seedat Cabinet Member for Jobs and Housing, and Councillor Sonia Winifred Cabinet Memeber for Healthy Neighbourhoods,

Today, a member of our group who is a victim of domestic abuse, was housed outside the borough of Lambeth where she feels safe and into temporary accommodation that is unfit for living. She has been housed in a borough she is unfamiliar with and far away from the vital support networks she has developed in Lambeth. The accommodation has broken fire alarms, a sign about cockroaches having been in the house, and serious damp and mould – please see photos below. The woman from the estate agents who showed previous people around said that people had refused to stay there – no doubt these people have been classed as ‘intentionally homeless’.

When we asked the placement officer if other Lambeth accommodation had been looked into – as the Supreme Court recently stated local authorities must do – the reply was that there was no accommodation in Lambeth. When we asked if Lambeth council had modified its policy on this the placement officer said there was a policy but they didn’t know what this was.

Our member and her young children are due to move into this unsuitable and dangerous temporary accommodation tomorrow – Tuesday 28th April. We are asking you to urgently find alternative, suitable accommodation for the family in Lambeth. Please email us today on haslemail@gmail.com to resolve this situation.

We hope this can be sorted out immediately so that our housing group does not need to make another visit to Olive Morris House this week for a situation that should not have happened in the first place.

Yours sincerely, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth

Please tweet your concern and support for our HASL member to @lambeth_council

mould in the flat

mould in the flat

broken fire alarms

broken fire alarms

damp in the flat

damp in the flat

Solidarity Call Out for Abahlali Basemjondolo

Two black women in South Africa were recently violently killed – most likely by state actors – to little public reckoning. Although these women were both killed in separate incidents, they were both active members of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) the shack-dwellers movement which has challenged local ANC rule for better housing and exposed local corruption.

Housing activists in New York, London and Budapest have called protests over the weekend in solidarity with all housing activists in South Africa facing repression particularly AbM to highlight their action. Details for the London demo below:

London – Abahlali UK Solidarity

Please take a moment to sign this petition that will be submitted to South Africa House, London on Saturday 22nd November. 

Watch this 5 minute video on the assassinations:

Below is the petition text:

Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) is a grassroots, democratic and member-led organisation based in Durban, a city in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. AbM have an impressive record of exposing corruption and asserting the constitutional rights of thousands of the marginalised shack-dwelling people. We, the undersigned, are in support of the resolve of AbM members to strive for more participatory forms of development and to advance the struggle for access to urban land.

We condemn all assassinations, political murders and other acts of violence and intimidation against AbM members and housing rights activists. In the past 18 months, four housing rights activists have been killed. This includes two prominent AbM members:

1. Thembinkosi Qumbelo (assassination, Cato Crest) – 15 March 2013
2. Nkululeko Gwala, aged 34 (assassination, Cato Crest) – 26 June 2013
3. Nqobile Nzuzua, aged 17 (police murder, Cato Crest) – 30 September 2013
4. Thuli Ndlovu, aged 36 (assassination, KwaNdengezi) – 29 September 2014

We also note that more than 450 political assassinations have been documented in post-Apartheid South Africa with the majority taking place in KwaZulu-Natal province. We are troubled by the reports of collusion by the police and elected officials in the recent attacks on the Cato Crest. We place our solidarity with all activists facing repression in South Africa.

We believe that it is the right of people to engage in activism that is free of repression.

• We call on the South African government to create safe spaces for peaceful dialogue between housing activists and local, national and provincial authorities
• We call on the South African government to investigate the murders of these activists through a formal process of inquiry.
• We believe that the democratic state of South Africa has a duty to protect its citizens.

(with thanks to The Multicultural Politic for the main content of this post)