Category Archives: Uncategorized

Help HASL get 50 new standing order supporters!

Support our members who are at the worst end of the housing crisis and doing everything we can to fight it!

HASL keeps on growing and we are busier than ever organising housing support and action across south London daily! One family recently won a massive High Court victory over Southwark council’s cruel treatment of families in overcrowded housing, our group protest at Lambeth’s Civic Centre stood up for homeless families facing serious health issues, and our Saturday meetings have over 100 people attending. 

All these activities and bigger, busier meetings mean that the costs of running our group have also increased. We’ve moved to a new bigger venue and our refreshments costs have also risen. Housing organising is hungry work and we want to make sure all our members are properly hydrated and have a healthy snack. Our new costs include making sure we have medical masks for everyone at our group meetings so that we can run them as safely as possible.

We don’t have a membership fee for HASL because many of our members are already in financial hardship and our members give so much of their time and energies running the group. So instead we ask for supporters to set up solidarity standing orders to give the equivalent of membership fees.

These standing orders from our amazing supporters help to cover our basic running costs. But we need more of you! From our experience, having supporters with regular standing orders is the best way to fund our group – it’s a way to build solidarity and the HASL family, it helps to keep our group truly independent, it means we can focus on energies on housing organising (rather than doing grant applications) and it’s a sustainable funding model so we’re confident we can meet our basic costs. 

If you or someone you know have secure housing with a stable income, please consider setting up a £4 a month standing order to support our group. Send us an email at haslfinance[at]gmail.com and we’ll send you instructions on setting up a standing order. When we’re doing our accounts, the best thing is seeing all our supporters’ names on the bank statements!

Please help us spread the word to help us reach our target of 50 new standing order supporters.

More about our funding

HASL’s basics costs include hall hire, meeting refreshments, crafts for children’s activities, medical masks, printing, and protest props!

Our running costs are funded by our supporters’ standing orders. We also have a Trust for London grant which pays for our 2 housing group co-ordinators who are paid for 2 days and 1 day a week.

HASL local elections guide – Southwark

HASL is a completely independent group, we do not support any political party. We believe that with mutual support and collective action we can win together and fight for the high-quality council homes we need and deserve.

In the run up to local elections, political parties and those running to be councillors can be found making all kinds of promises.

Housing and homelessness will be key issues in these local elections.

We wanted to share some of our experiences of our local councils over the last 4 years and highlight the changes and action that need to happen now on homelessness, housing, and poverty in our boroughs. We hope that our experiences might help you to think of questions and issues to raise with people asking for your vote!

If you do get any answers from prospective councillors on these issues, please let us know! Send us an email haslcases[at]gmail.com

As you’ll see, as Southwark residents at the worst end of the housing crisis our experiences of dealing with Southwark council have been overwhelmingly negative. But don’t lose hope! Over the last 4 years with the efforts and determination of our members, we’ve won countless victories which have seen our members move into beautiful council housing and win other vital housing rights.

Southwark is lucky to have many active local campaigns on housing and community struggles. Make sure to follow 35% campaign, Latin Elephant, Southwark Notes, Southwark Group of Tenant Organisations, Southwark Travellers’ Action Group and others for other news on the housing and anti-gentrification movement here in Southwark.

We welcome those running as councillors to take action now on the issues we’re raising. Your support is long overdue.

Blaming and punishing families in overcrowded housing for the housing crisis

Southwark families in some of the most overcrowded housing in the borough have been repeatedly blamed by the council for the overcrowding and penalised on the housing waiting list. Southwark council use the cruel ‘deliberate act’ term to refuse families in severely overcrowded housing the chance to urgently move to more suitable housing. We have repeatedly pointed out to the council and councillors how their use of ‘deliberate act’ targets families of colour and migrant families. Back in December 2020, a HASL family successfully challenged the council’s use of ‘deliberate act’ in the Court of Appeal but the council seem to be ignoring this judgement.

In October 2020 Council Leader Kieron Williams stated that people with no other options should not be penalised for living in overcrowded housing. In March 2021 Cllr Stephanie Cryan stated that ‘deliberate act’ would be removed from the housing allocations policy and promised last month in a Labour branch meeting that the policy would be stopped immediately.

But right now, Southwark council are going to the High Court again to defend their ‘deliberate act’ decision that they have been punishing Milton’s family with for years. Their hateful decision told Milton that he should not have re-united with his wife and children here in London and that he should have left them on another continent! It is shocking and shameful that Southwark council are using public money, time, and resources to go to court.

We’ve also seen Southwark council threaten to prosecute vulnerable private tenants living in severely overcrowded housing for their housing conditions instead of taking on the slum private landlords!

‘Thought About Going Back to Peru?’ – Council Asks Family in UK Since 2004

As covered in Vice in December last year, a HASL member seeking housing support from the council was asked if she had ‘thought about going back to Peru?’ to solve her overcrowded housing. Our HASL member has 3 children who were all born here and have lived in Southwark for almost 2 decades in a single room – the family have suffered some of the most severe overcrowding we have ever come across. After this interview, unsurprisingly, the council decided that the family’s overcrowding was a ‘deliberate act’.

This offensive and racist question was defended by Cllr Stephanie Cryan who said: “… our staff are meticulous in their questions to ensure fairness of outcome in the result.”

The family have not received an apology from the council and we have not had any reassurance that this will not happen again.

Trying to push through changes to the housing waiting list rules taking away housing rights

Last year during the severe lockdown, Southwark council pushed through a flawed consultation about major changes to the housing register waiting list rules affecting some of Southwark’s most vulnerable residents. At the time, ourselves and other organisations asked the council to ‘pause, amend and extend’ the consultation in order to allow people to have the time to fully engage and respond to changes that would seriously impact them for the next decade. But the council insisted that there was no time to amend and extend the consultation. In the end they only agreed to a 1 month extension. The consultation closed on 1st June 2021 but the council have not announced anything about the consultation since then. We recently heard that the new rules are likely to be announced after June 2022 over a year later. This date is conveniently after the May 2022 local election. Why were the council rushing through a consultation during lockdown and then abandoning it for a year? What are their plans that they can’t announce it before the May 2022 elections? It looks like they are playing politics with people’s lives.

Where is the social housing?

Council leader Kieron Williams stated in February 2021 “the truth is the number of council homes in Southwark is going up not down“. But the reality has been the opposite on Southwark Homesearch where households on the housing waiting list bid for social housing properties. Since Southwark Homesearch re-opened in September 2020 we have seen the fewest number of properties on Southwark Homesearch ever. We have repeatedly asked the council for an explanation for this dramatic reduction in the number of properties available on Southwark Homesearch but we have not received a response to this question. The reduction is also confusing when there are a number of new council and housing association developments across the borough which we would have expected would have resulted in an increase in the number of homes on Southwark Homesearch.   

One factor we think may be playing a part in the reduction is the council’s unaccountable use of direct offers to some homeless families in temporary accommodation. We wrote an open letter to the council in February 2021 about this asking about their use of direct offers and with three clear points we wanted to be addressed. While the council did reply to the letter, the response did not fully address our points or give us clear answers. Southwark residents on the housing waiting list still remain in the dark about the council’s use of direct offers.

Families stuck in temporary accommodation for longer due to unlawful housing waiting list queue jumping policy

From until July 2019 and December 2020, Southwark council were running an unlawful housing policy in the housing office pushing homeless families into private rented housing and families in temporary accommodation further down the housing waiting list. There was no public information about this policy and it was only uncovered by the efforts of HASL members. This policy was basically widescale queue jumping facilitated by the council where new homeless applicants were encouraged to take private housing in return for a higher position on the housing waiting list above people who have been in temporary accommodation for longer. The council only stopped this unlawful policy after 2 HASL members took judicial review proceedings against the council and the council settled the case by stopping the scheme.

The unlawful scheme is having devastating consequences for families in temporary accommodation who will have years added onto their time in temporary accommodation. It has also caused confusion, distress, and distrust for people on the housing waiting list as a result of the council’s behaviour.

Long journeys to school from unsuitable temporary accommodation

Many Southwark homeless households are being housed across London and as far as Essex, far from their communities, support, and schools here in Southwark. Being homeless is difficult enough, but being forced out of your neighbourhood adds to the distress and daily difficulties faced by homeless families. We’ve supported numerous families to successfully get temporary accommodation back in their home borough. But Southwark’s process re-housing families back in in-borough temporary accommodation is not clear at all adding more distress in an already difficult time.

We know that Southwark council faces pressures in sourcing suitable temporary accommodation that are often beyond their control but the council should still be doing everything they can to ensure people are housed in-borough and a clear system for families to understand when they can expect to get in-borough temporary accommodation.

No time for the biggest housing group in the borough?

Despite our efforts, there is not any meaningful engagement or dialogue between HASL and Southwark council on the serious housing issues we have raised. We have sent numerous emails to councillors that have gone unanswered, we have had meetings which result in nothing. Back in March 2021, HASL members went to great efforts organising and facilitating a zoom meeting with Council Leader Kieron Williams and Cllr Stephanie Cryan raising the key homelessness and housing issues affecting our group. We sent an email with minutes and action points and this went unanswered. Nothing we discussed was followed up on by the councillors.

HASL is a group of hundreds of families and individuals facing the worst end of the housing crisis. It’s shameful that Southwark council have repeatedly refused to engage with our group.

HASL’s 2021

It’s been another very challenging year – especially for people living in bad housing and struggling on a low-income. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, we have not been able to have our face to face meetings and instead we have been running weekly zoom meetings with our members. We had a few opportunities this year to come together as a group at our noise protest, summer picnic, and a housing meeting in Burgess park. It was amazing to see so many old and new HASL members in person at these events.

We’re really proud of everything we have achieved this year – if we can achieve this much by organising over zoom, just wait until we can meet in person again!

Over the year we have won victories big and small, we organised a massive response when our local councils tried to use the winter lockdown to take away important rights for people on the housing waiting list, we’ve stopped evictions, successfully challenged unlawful gatekeeping of homeless people, and helped people move from homelessness and slum housing into the safe and secure council homes they need. We’ve also launched our campaign for high quality, safe, secure family-sized council homes which we will continue building in the new year.

Every day across south London we are supporting people to understand and enforce their housing rights, we let people know that they are not alone, and we campaign for the good council homes we all need and deserve.

A big thank you to all our HASL members and supporters for your continued support. Our group is run by our members and the group would not function without everyone’s participation. Thank you to everyone who has helped in any way – participating in our zoom meetings, telling friends about the group, liking our social media posts, joining protests, helping to make videos and so much more! We’ve also loved working together with our friends Public Interest Law Centre and English for Action and many other groups and new friends we’ve made over the year.

We hope everyone can have a good rest over the winter holidays and we’re looking forward to returning with even more energy, strength and solidarity in the new year!

Here are some of our 2021 highlights.

Campaign for 3, 4, 5 bed council homes, end NRPF!

In March, kids from Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, Akwaaba, and English for Action living in overcrowded housing and temporary accommodation launched our poster campaign calling for 3, 4, 5 bed council homes. They have also wrote personal messages on their posters:

“You wouldn’t get enough sleep if your house was overcrowded”

“Sharing a room with parents or sleeping somewhere that is not the bedroom isn’t fun!”

We did this to mark the first anniversary of lockdown which many children have spent trapped in tiny, cramped, poor quality housing.  We launched over 50 of these posters with a twitter storm at Minister for Housing Robert Jenrick to make sure he couldn’t miss them. We also sent him a letter explaining the need for high quality, safe, secure family-sized council homes and the need to abolish No Recourse to Public Funds so no one is refused good housing based on their immigration status. Children need space to play, rest and study!

You can see all the beautiful posters here

Challenging Lewisham and Southwark’s lockdown ‘consultations’

At the start of the year during a difficult winter lockdown, both Lewisham council and Southwark Council (and a number of other London councils) decided that that it was the best time to make significant changes to their housing waiting list rules. There is no doubt that they used this moment to try to quickly push through new rules that would negatively impact their residents suffering in overcrowded housing and temporary accommodation.

We immediately organised to make sure our members and other residents knew what was going on and how these new rules would affect them. We ran a number large online meetings with members from both boroughs to discuss the consultations and what the group’s response should be. After our online meetings we put together template responses to both Lewisham and Southwark councils’ housing waiting list rules consultations helping hundreds of people most affected by the new rules to engage with these badly organised consultations. Our 2 Southwark meetings had over 80 families joining each meeting!

The South London Press covered our concerns at Lewisham’s housing waiting list consultation and features one of our member’s cases.

Southwark News covered our demands for Southwark council to ‘pause, amend and extend’ the consultation to make sure that Southwark residents can meaningfully engage.

We know we had an impact! In September, Lewisham council announced the new housing waiting list rules. Some of the worst rules had been removed. As a result of our campaigning we successfully challenged Lewisham council’s harmful plans to push thousands of families in severely overcrowded housing to the bottom of the housing list. We will be writing a blog post on this with more information soon.

After Southwark council tried to rush through their consultation, they have now gone silent. Now they say that the new rules will not be agreed until after June 2022. This is conveniently after the May 2022 local elections. It looks like they are playing politics with people’s lives. We’ll be writing another blog post with more updates on this soon.

Southwark campaign on overcrowding – victories and challenges ahead

As a result of our community-led campaign and Favio and Elba’s legal challenge in the Court of Appeal Southwark council removed the cruel ‘deliberate act’ term from their new draft allocations scheme. We were hopeful that this would mark a change in Southwark council’s treatment of families in overcrowded housing. As a result of Favio and Elba’s Court of Appeal challenge, a number of other HASL families were able to move from severely overcrowded housing into spacious council homes this year.

Back in March, 18 HASL members also had a zoom meeting with the leader of Southwark council Kieron Williams and the councillor for housing Stephanie Cryan where we raised the council’s treatment of overcrowded families and other homelessness and housing issues our members face. Kieron William’s apologised for the cruel and hurtful overcrowding decisions that families had received.

However, despite the Court of Appeal victory, the council’s intention to remove their cruel ‘deliberate act’ term, and Kieron William’s apology, Southwark council’s culture of blame and refusal targeted at families in overcrowded housing has continued.

Milton’s family have faced years of bullying and blame by Southwark council and have been campaigning for years on their case. In June, HASL members turned out in force for a noise protest outside Southwark council town hall in support of Milton’s family and all overcrowded families. You can read our short blog here. Afterwards our members told us: “it was amazing to be part of” and “the union makes us strong”.

With Public Interest Law Centre, Milton and his family launched legal action against the council’s decision that their severe overcrowding is a ‘deliberate act’. Milton and his teenage daughter powerfully explain their situation in this Southwark News article. We have fact-checked Cllr Cryan’s statements in the article here. The family’s case was also covered in MyLondon where it received almost half a million views and was picked up by the Mirror as well.

For years, we have repeatedly campaigned and warned Cllr Kieron Williams and Stephanie Cryan about the toxic and hostile culture in the housing office targeted at families of colour and migrant families in overcrowded housing. We were unsurprised but still sickened when a HASL family of 5 who have lived in a room for over 10 years were asked if they had thought about returning to Peru to solve their overcrowding. The family were also represented by PILC and even though the council blamed them for their overcrowding saying it was a ‘deliberate act’ the family were still able to move from their room to a permanent council home this month just in time for Christmas. Earlier this year, PILC had also helped the family remove the racist No Recourse to Public Funds condition and access welfare benefits and the housing waiting list.

Families in severely overcrowded housing have won significant victories against Southwark council’s cruel treatment with the help of other HASL members, supporters and our friends at PILC. They shouldn’t have to go through these efforts because they should never be blamed in the first place but as long as Southwark council’s culture of blame and refusal continues, we will keep on fighting it.

Lewisham overcrowding challenge

Our member Zaida went to the High Court to challenge Lewisham council from banning her from the housing register despite living in overcrowded housing because she has not lived in the borough for 5 years. Here’s our Lewisham group showing their support on zoom. Unfortunately the legal case was not successful. But we will keep on fighting for council housing for everyone and against strict local connection criteria which discriminates against migrant families and everyone who suffers from insecure private housing.

Workshops, events and other activities

At the end of August we had our HASL picnic which was our first in-person social event in over a year and a half. It was an emotional and special afternoon seeing old friends and meeting people who we had only ever met on zoom before.

The warm autumn weather also meant that we could have our first big housing group meeting outdoors in October. We had 100 people join us for our housing meeting and it was great to run our big group meetings again together.

We joined the Brixton Community Rally with other housing groups and campaigns fighting for our local communities against social cleansings and private developments.

Our members Fowsiyo and Pamela were interviewed by English for Action students and talk about the causes of London’s housing crisis, what we do to fight the housing crisis together, our victories, legal aid cuts and so much more! Watch, ‘like’, share, and subscribe to the EFA youtube channel here

Our member Pamela also featured in this renters rights video.

In February, HASL members joined Akwaaba, a social centre for migrants based in east London, to run a workshop on racism in housing and sharing our experiences of organising collectively for housing rights and high quality council homes for all. We also delivered a talk on housing campaigning with a new Ealing and Hounslow housing group. We also ran a social housing rights workshop with our members who have recently moved into social housing.

We also joined NEON’s housing movement builders training in July and October this year where we met with other housing campaigners from across the UK.

Protecting homeless families’ rights

In February, Southwark council were forced to settle a judicial review case that 2 HASL members took against them for operating an unlawful policy pushing homeless families into private rented housing and families in temporary accommodation further down the housing waiting list. As a result of the legal challenge that was taken by Camden Community Law Centre, Southwark council ended this so-called ‘trial policy’. We’ve experienced first-hand in Lambeth a similar ‘homeless prevention’ scheme which forces families into private housing and we know how disastrous these schemes are. In their housing waiting list consultation, Southwark council also proposed to bring this scheme into the housing allocations policy and we strongly opposed this in our responses to the consultation. We have another blog about Southwark’s unlawful policy coming soon!

Some of our other victories

Waltham Forest council have tried to force a number of homeless families to Stoke on Trent, or other locations across England, including one of our members. A strong twitter storm made Waltham Forest council stop the eviction of Monica and her family from temporary accommodation. We collected some of the press coverage here. We know these cases aren’t isolated cases and we’re disturbed at what is happening in Waltham Forest council’s housing office where homeless families face this appalling treatment.

With the help of Lewisham Law Centre, our homeless member successfully overturned Lewisham council’s decision to force her and her family into unsuitable private housing. We’re really concerned at Lewisham council’s use of private sector discharge which they are targeting at single parents. The private sector is a main cause of homelessness, families should not be forced back into it. We’ll be campaigning more on this issue with our members.

Back in August 2020 we wrote a blog with our member who was facing her 3rd section 21 eviction notice. With the help of GT Stewart solicitors the eviction company’s dodgy section 21 notice was thrown out of court! 

Throughout the year, a number of our members have been able to bid for secure social housing, the last few months have been particularly busy! We’re so happy for our members who have been able to move into secure social housing but we know the hardship and difficulties they suffered before they were finally able to get their new homes. One of our members was living with her young son in a small room with no natural light or ventilation. Southwark council’s enforcement officers said it was not fit for people to live in and should only be used for storage. With our help and PILC, our member was put into band 2 on the housing register and is now has a spacious 2 bedroom council home. One of our members who is suffering from a number of medical issues and was sofa surfing was helped by the group to get higher medical priority on the housing waiting list. She was then able to successfully bid for a housing association home. She told us that our group’s work “you do it with your heart…I want to comfort people and I want you to know that I will come to support others”

Our group has also helped families to make homeless applications and challenge unlawful gatekeeping, helped people get their correct banding on the housing register, helped people understand their rights, helped people to find lawyers for their housing cases, helped people to request suitability reviews which has seen them re-housed closer to their home borough, and provided emotional support as well. In our group zoom meetings our members have been incredible at providing support, sharing experiences and rights information.

Shame on Waltham Forest council – stop forcing Londoners to Stoke!

In June we were shocked to find that Waltham Forest Council were trying to force our member Monica and her family to permanently move to Stoke-on-Trent – over 170 miles away! The family could not attend the viewing as the husband had recently got work in London and in response Waltham Forest tried to evict the family from their temporary accommodation. We wrote a report about these “private sector discharges” of homeless duties in 2017 – we found that actually very few London councils were trying it force families out of London. This shows it is a cruel political decision and that homeless families can be found housing in London if councils try. Waltham Forest Council tried to say they were moving the family to Stoke because of the benefit cap, but in fact the family would also have been hit by the benefit cap in the Stoke property!

The family is currently challenging the council with the help of a lawyer, and members rallied on Monday to make sure they were not evicted from their temporary accommodation. The media has also been great at covering this important case:

Metro (Family evicted from London home for not going to house viewing 180 miles away)

The Mirror (Mum-of-three handed eviction notice after failing to attend flat viewing 200 miles away) – though not to be confused with this Mirror article about another family that Waltham Forest are also trying to force to Stoke at the same time!

Inside Housing (Council evicts family from temporary accommodation for failing to attend viewing 180 miles away)

MyLondon (Mum and 3 kids ‘facing eviction’ from home after missing flat viewing over 140 miles away)

East London Guardian (Waltham Forest Council slammed for family’s eviction threat and Family offered house 150 miles away face homelessness again) – they also covered how another family was facing this same cruel treatment. We send our full solidarity to Nadia and all homeless households facing this appalling treatment.

Noise protest at Southwark council in support of Milton’s family

Over 50 HASL members joined our noise protest outside Southwark town hall at the start of this month in support of Milton’s family and all families living in overcrowded housing. As well as families coming from Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, some of our members traveled from their temporary accommodation out in Croydon. Other members joined us from Haringey and Hackney. You can watch some videos on our twitter here.

Our noise protest lasted over 2 hours making sure that the council could not ignore us and resulting in the housing manager coming down to speak with the families. He promised Milton’s family that they would receive a decision on their case by the following week. Unfortunately, this deadline has not been met. We have been keeping the pressure up on twitter and we might have to return with even more people and even more noise.

Milton’s family has faced extreme bullying from the council over the last 3 years. The family of 4 have been living in a tiny studio flat for four and a half years after this was the only property they could find after facing discrimination by private landlords and unaffordable local rents. Due to the serious level of overcrowding, the family should qualify for band 1 which would allow them to be quickly re-housed into suitable social housing. Instead of supporting the family, the council wrongly accused the family of committing fraud over an innocent admin error, threatened them with criminal prosecution for causing overcrowding and have insisted that the family’s overcrowding is a ‘deliberate act’. The family have been repeatedly asked by the council why they need to live in Southwark.

Last December, another HASL family successfully challenged Southwark council’s decision that their overcrowding was a ‘deliberate act’ in the Court of Appeal. The judgement should help other severely overcrowded families including Milton’s but from our experience so far, it seems that the council are ignoring this important ruling.

Along with Public Interest Law Cetnre we are also supporting a number of other HASL members who live in severely overcrowded housing to be treated fairly and respectfully and to claim their rightful position on the housing waiting list.

Thank you to everyone who joined who helped make it such a strong and powerful protest! We all know that no one chooses to live in overcrowded housing, hopefully Southwark council will finally get the message!

Lambeth council – don’t evict Denby court residents!

Help Denby court homeless families demand better treatment from Lambeth council, call to stop the evictions, and demand a better development plan for Lambeth families – 100% council housing on council owned land!

Denby Court in Kennington is one of the many council estates that Lambeth Council have earmarked for “regeneration”/demolition. While the council were waiting to demolish the buildings they used the estate as temporary accommodation for homeless families. Even though no demolition work is expected until August 2021, and there is currently no planning permission for the new development, the council are already threatening to evict the homeless families on the estate.

Families from Denby court attended a recent HASL meeting and told us how they have already spent years living in properties in Denby court which are overcrowded and in disrepair. Now they are being told they will be moved to new accommodation soon with little information of when exactly they will be moved, or where they will end up. As Davida recently told the Guardian:

“None of us wants to stay in the poor conditions we are living in but we want to be treated like people who have rights, not just moved on again, during a pandemic, to more temporary accommodation miles away from our schools and support networks.”

None of the families who joined our meeting had been clearly told what was going to happen to them. Some of the families have been pressured by the Council to give up their homeless duties and accept private accommodation. Some have been told that they will be housed in temporary accommodation outside of their home borough of Lambeth. Neither of these options are acceptable and this situation is causing serious distress to the families.

Some of the families we spoke to have medical and care needs – the last thing the Council should be doing is moving them at little notice far away from their support networks and children’s schools. Another resident described how Denby Court was her third temporary accommodation, and now she and her children are facing being moved into a fourth.

Lambeth Council must immediately stop any eviction plans and reassure the residents that they will be able to remain in their homes until longer-term solutions can be found by listening to the needs and wishes of the residents. Some of these longer term solutions could include giving direct offers of permanent social housing, allowing the families enough time at Denby court to bid for permanent social housing through the housing waiting list or finding suitable temporary accommodation in the local area to minimise disruption.

As if trying to evict and displace vulnerable homeless families was not bad enough – the new proposed development is not even a good deal for Lambeth residents. Denby Court estate is on council owned land – the council should be using this to maximise the number of family-sized council homes to help address the severe housing crisis we face. However, only 49 of the 141 new properties will be at Council rent. Lambeth council must do better than this for their residents! All new homes built on council land should be council homes!

It is positive to see that there will be 4 bedroom council homes on the new estate – as there is desperate need for larger family sized council homes – but there are only 5 of these planned for the whole estate.

The demolition of the estate should not be considered until a fair solution is found for its current residents and a better plan is made which has more family-sized council homes for a development on council-owned land. 

Show your support from Denby court homeless families!

  • Sign their petition here
  • If you’re a Lambeth resident, please use our template email below to email the Lambeth Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness Jennifer Brathwaite: jbrathwaite@lambeth.gov.uk
  • If your local MP is Florence Eshalomi please email her as well: florence.eshalomi.mp@parliament.uk

Email template:

Dear

I am writing to you in support of the homeless families at Denby Court estate.

 I am really concerned at  the treatment these families are facing by Lambeth council and I hope you can intervene to support these vulnerable homeless families. 


As you are probably aware, Lambeth council has decanted the council tenants from the estate and has been using Denby court as temporary accommodation for homeless families. Now that Lambeth wants to push ahead with demolition of the estate, Lambeth is trying to evict the families in temporary accommodation. The options offered to the families seem to be private rented housing or temporary accommodation out of borough. This approach by the council is completely unacceptable. It is causing serious distress to the families.


I am asking that the council immediately stop any eviction plans and give reassurance to the residents that they will be able to remain in their homes until longer-term solutions can be found by listening to the needs and wishes of the residents.    
Some of these longer term solutions could include giving direct offers of permanent social housing, allowing them to bid for permanent social housing through the Choice Based Lettings or finding suitable temporary accommodation in the local area to minimise disruption. 


Finally, the new proposed development on the site of Denby court does not seem to be a good deal for Lambeth residents. This is council land and the council should be maximising the number of family-sized council homes to help address the severe housing crisis we face. New developments on council land should be 100% council housing. However, under the current development plans, only 49 of the 141 new properties will be at Council rent.

If the council can justify demolition of the estate in the future, rather than refurbishment, then the proposed development needs to offer more family-sized council homes (3, 4, 5 bed council homes) for Lambeth residents so that homeless households and families living in overcrowded housing can be suitably housed. But demolition of the estate should not be considered until a fair solution is found for it’s current residents and a better plan is made which has more family-sized council homes for a development on council-owned land. 


I really hope that you will support your constituents with their urgent housing cases and that they are given reassurance that they will not be forced to leave against their will. I hope long-term solutions can be found for all the families at Denby court.  


Yours sincerely, 

HASL’s template email for Southwark council’s housing waiting list consultation

By Karelen aged 13

Southwark residents  – Use our template email to fight for the rights of Southwark families in temporary accommodation and overcrowded housing!

Texto en español a continuación

What is HASL? Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth is a community housing group made up of families and individuals who are homeless in temporary accommodation, living in overcrowded housing or face other housing problems.

What’s happening? Southwark council are looking to make lots of significant changes to the housing waiting list rules. These changes will affect us all! Before the council can introduce the new rules, they are conducting a public consultation to ask for the views of Southwark residents on the new rules. Southwark council have launched an online survey, however, we have noticed that lots of the new rules are not included in the online survey. Some of the new rules and questions on the survey are not explained clearly. Because of these problems with the online survey and other accessibility issues with the survey, we have made a template email that you can use to give your views (more on this below).

  • We are very concerned about how the consultation process is being conducted – during a lockdown – and with an online survey that does not explain all the major changes clearly.
  • We are also very concerned about many of the new rules which we believe will reduce the rights that households on the housing waiting list currently have.
  • We are particularly concerned about a major new policy that would divide homeless families by “rewarding” those who take private housing with band 2 and leaving other families stuck in temporary accommodation for even longer.

What can I do?

Use HASL’s template email to respond to the consultation. Over 80 HASL families, living in temporary accommodation or overcrowded housing, helped to write and agree these template email answers to ensure that these views are represented. We discussed the new rules and our answers over 2 zoom meetings. We believe these answers follow our principles that housing should be allocated according to housing need and in the fairest possible way.

Click here for our template email in English

Click here for our template email in Spanish

Please use our template email to help you to respond to Southwark council’s consultation and feel free to edit and add your own words to the email as well. If you use this form, the email will be sent directly to Southwark council’s consultation email address. A copy will also be sent to our HASL email and we will delete all responses when the consultation process is over. The template email and questions do not have information that can identify you – the form does not ask for your full name, address, or date of birth. But we do ask for your email address to show the council that you are a real person.

You can read the new 88 page (!!) draft housing allocations policy here

The current housing allocations policy is here

If you would like extra support from HASL to use the template email, if you have any questions or if you want to be involved and hear more about HASL’s activities on this important consultation, send a message to our group phone 07930 062282 or send us an email: haslcases@gmail.com

You can email Southwark council if you need information about the consultation in another language, if you have any questions about the consultation or if you want to submit more information or suggestions: housingconsultation@southwark.gov.uk

Residentes de Southwark – usa nuestra plantilla de correo electrónico en lucha para los derechos de las familias de Southwark en acomodación temporal, y vivienda superpoblada!

¿Qué es HASL? Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (acción por hogares en Southwark y Lambeth) es un grupo comunitario de familias e individuos que están desalojados, viviendo enacomodación temporal, viviendo en casas donde no hay suficiente espacio o enfrentándose a otras problemas de vivienda.

 ¿Qué está pasando? Southwark Council están en camino a hacer muchos cambios importantes al reglamento de la lista de espera para hogares sociales. Esto cambios nos afectarían a todos!

Para introducir nuevas reglas, el Council esta obligado a consultar las opiniones de residentes de Southwark sobre los cambios propuestos. Southwark han lanzado una encuesta en línea, pero hemos notado que muchas de las nuevas reglas no están incluidas en esta encuesta. Algunas de las nuevas reglas o las cuestiones posadas a residentes no se explican claramente en la encuesta. Por esto no recomendamos que se use esta encuesta en línea. Hemos preparado una plantilla de correo electrónico que pueden usar para enviar sus opiniones sobre este asunto (más sobre esto a continuación).

enlace a la encuesta en línea del consejo https://consultations.southwark.gov.uk/housing-community-services-department-community-engagement-team/housing-allocation/

  • Estamos muy preocupados por la manera en que el proceso de consulta esta siendo manejado – durante lockdown – y con una encuesta en línea que no explica todos los grandes cambios claramente.
  • Estamos muy preocupados que muchas de las nuevas reglas que creemos causaran una reducción de derechos de la gente en la lista de espera para hogares sociales.
  • Especialmente estamos preocupados que este gran cambio de reglamento serviría para dividir familias desalojadas por el hecho de “premiar” aquellos que toman un arriendo privado con una priorización más alta en “Band 2” que dejaría otras familias atascados en alojamiento temporal por tiempos más largos.

¿Qué puedo hacer?

Usa la plantilla de correo electrónico de HASL para responder a la consulta. Esta plantilla fue escrita y acordada con más de 80 familias en nuestro grupo que están en acomodación temporal o en vivienda superpoblada para asegurar que nuestras opiniones sean representativas. Hemos discutido estas nuevas reglas y nuestras respuestas en 2 reuniones Zoom. Creemos que las respuestas siguen nuestros principios que los hogares sociales deben ser repartidas a aquellos con la mayor necesidad y de la manera más justa posible.

haga clic aquí para nuestra plantilla de correo electrónico en español

haga clic aquí para nuestra plantilla de correo electrónico en inglés

Por favor use nuestra plantilla de correo electrónico para responder a la consulta de Southwark Council y siéntase libre de editarlo o añadir tus propias palabras también. Si utiliza este formulario, el correo electrónico se enviará directamente a la dirección de correo electrónico de consulta del consejo de Southwark. También se enviará una copia a nuestro correo electrónico de HASL y eliminaremos todas las respuestas cuando finalice el proceso de consulta. El correo electrónico y las preguntas de la plantilla no tienen información que pueda identificarlo; el formulario no solicita su nombre completo, dirección o fecha de nacimiento. Pero le pedimos su dirección de correo electrónico para demostrarle al consejo que es una persona real.

Puedes leer el documento de 88 paginas (!!) del reglamento de asignación de hogares sociales nuevo que ha sido propuesto aquí

El reglamento actual de asignación de hogares sociales esta aquí

Si quisiera más apoyo de HASL para usar la plantilla de correo electrónico, si tiene cualquier pregunta o si quisiera saber más de las actividades de HASL alrededor de esta consulta muy importante, envíenos un mensaje a nuestro teléfono de grupo 07930 062282 o envíenos un correo a haslcases@gmail.com

Puedes enviar un correo a Southwark Council si necesitas información sobre la consulta en otro idioma.

Si tiene preguntas sobre la consulta o quieres enviar más información o sugerencias: housingconsultation@southwark.gov.uk

Join our Twitter storm for 3, 4, 5 bed council homes! Monday 22nd March 9am

Kids from Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, Akwaaba, and English for Action living in overcrowded housing and temporary accommodation have designed posters calling for 3, 4, 5 bed council homes. They have also written personal messages on their posters:

“You wouldn’t get enough sleep if your house was overcrowded”

“Sharing a room with parents or sleeping somewhere that is not the bedroom isn’t fun!”

Join us on twitter (and facebook and instagram) on Monday 22nd March from 9am to make sure Minister for Housing Robert Jenrick can’t miss them!

On the 1 year anniversary of the lockdown, we’re sending these posters to Housing Minister Robert Jenrick to remind the government of the urgent need for high quality, safe, secure family-sized council homes and the need to abolish No Recourse to Public Funds so no one is refused good housing based on their immigration status. Children need space to play, rest and study!

Welfare cuts, high private rents, and a desperate shortage of council homes have meant that the number of people in temporary accommodation and overcrowded housing have reached some of the highest ever levels. In London last year, there were almost 90,000 children living in temporary accommodation. Across England there are 3.6 million people living in overcrowded homes.

Over the last year, families have found themselves trapped in unbearable, cramped living conditions 24/7, worsening their mental and physical health. Children have struggled with home-schooling in noisy cramped spaces. Overcrowded housing has been linked to the spread of Covid 19 and residents are more vulnerable to ill-health and death. 

Yet, throughout the pandemic, the government have refused to give families any reason for hope. The government have not introduced a single housing policy to help families and individuals suffering in the worst housing conditions. No Recourse to Public Funds continues to push people into poverty and homelessness. The government have refused to talk about council housing even though this is the obvious solution to the housing crisis we face. 

To solve the overcrowding and housing crisis, we need 3, 4, 5 bed council homes and an end to No Recourse to Public Funds so that everyone can have the good housing they need. 

We’ll be tweeting Robert Jenrick with over 50 drawings by children from housing and migrant support groups from across London. Please retweet and quote tweet our posters so they can’t be ignored.

HASL twitterAkwaaba twitterEnglish for Action twitter
HASL instagramAkwaaba instagram
HASL facebookAkwaaba facebookEnglish for Action facebook

HASL’s response to Lewisham Council’s housing waiting list consultation

Recently we have been campaigning against the proposed changes to Lewisham Council’s housing waiting list rules. These changes will see severely overcrowded families pushed down the housing waiting list making it impossible to get social housing for some and making the wait even longer for others. Our members were featured in this South London press article about the proposed changes. HASL members also collectively created template answers for people to complete the consultation with.

The consultation closed on Sunday 14th March. Here is HASL’s full response, including our members’ stories, why we want Lewisham to drop the changes and our members’ proposals for making Lewisham’s waiting list fairer:

Lewisham residents – we need your support!

Lewisham residents – Use our template answers to fight for the rights of Lewisham families in temporary accommodation and overcrowded housing!

En español abajo

Lewisham council has launched its Lewisham Housing Allocation Scheme Policy Review which is in the form of an online survey which can be found by clicking here

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth is a community housing group made up of families and individuals who are homeless in temporary accommodation, living in overcrowded housing or face other housing problems.

HASL is very concerned about many of the new proposals contained in the survey that will have a hugely negative impact on families in overcrowded housing by reducing their banding. We also want to make sure families in temporary accommodation are not forced into the private sector through the council’s use of their private sector discharge policy.

It is really important that Lewisham households, especially households suffering at the worst end of the housing crisis, respond to the survey to challenge these bad proposals and share their views on how the council can make the fairest policy which supports everyone, especially those with high housing needs.

HASL is here to help you!

  • Together with our Lewisham group members, we have prepared template answers (please click on link below) which you can use to help complete the survey – and please feel free to include your own views as well.
  • At the end of the survey, you can add your email address so that you will be emailed a copy of your answers. If you are happy to for us have a copy of your answers so that we can keep a record of them, please forward this email to haslcases@gmail.com.
  • You can email Lewisham council if you need the survey translated into another language, if you have any questions about the survey or if you want to submit more information or suggestions: housingconsultation@lewisham.gov.uk
  • If you would like extra support from HASL to complete the survey, if you have any questions or if you want to be involved and hear more about HASL’s activities on this important survey/consultation, send a message to to our group phone 07930 062282 or send us an email: haslcases@gmail.com
  • The survey does not give any room to explain about your personal housing circumstances or to give your own suggestions and proposals. Email us your personal testimony/story explaining your current housing situation and how the new policy would impact you and we will collect these together to submit to the council. Send your testimony to haslcases@gmail.com
  • The survey asks in question 21 what type of housing you live in – for example, private rented, temporary accommodation, social housing but the survey does not give space for you to say if you are currently overcrowded in your housing. If you are currently overcrowded, please let them know by adding this sentence to the end of the first answer:

My family lives in overcrowded housing in the private rented sector and this policy directly affects me.

The deadline for responding to the survey is Sunday 14th March

Residentes de Lewisham – Usen nuestro modelo de respuestas para luchar por los derechos de las familias de Lewisham en acomodación temporaria y vivienda superpoblada!

El ayuntamiento de Lewisham ha publicado su Revisión de la política del esquema de asignación de vivienda de Lewisham que está en la forma de una encuesta online la cual puede ser encontrada aquí: https://consultation.lewisham.gov.uk/strategic-housing-and-regulatory-services/https-lewisham-gov-uk-media-lewisham-housingal/

Housing Action Southwark y Lambeth es un grupo de alojamiento comunitario formado por familias e individuales sin techo en acomodación temporal, viviendo en una casa sobrepoblada o enfrentando otros problemas de alojamiento.

HASL está muy preocupada por las muchas propuestas contenidas en la encuesta las cuales tendrán un gran impacto negativo en las familias sobrepobladas reduciendo las posiciones de sus bandas. También queremos asegurarnos que las familias en acomodación temporal no están siendo forzadas en un sector privado a través del uso de la política de descarga del sector privado del ayuntamiento.

Es realmente importante que los hogares de Lewisham, especialmente los hogares sufriendo en las primeras situaciones de crisis, respondan a la encuesta para desafiar estas malas proposiciones y compartir nuestras visiones en cómo el ayuntamiento puede hacer la política más justa que apoye a todos, especialmente a aquellos con altas necesidades de alojamiento.

HASL está aquí para ayudarte!

● Juntos con nuestros miembros de Lewisham, hemos preparado un modelo con respuestas (haga clic en el enlace de abajo) las cuales pueden usar para completar el cuestionario – y por favor siéntanse libres de incluir sus propias opiniones.

● Al final de la encuesta, usted puede añadir su correo electrónico para que le envíen una copia de sus respuestas. Si están de acuerdo en enviarnos la copia de sus respuestas para mantener un registro, por favor envíelo a este email: haslcases@gmail.com.

● Puede enviar un correo electrónico al ayuntamiento de Lewisham si necesita traducir la encuesta a otro idioma, si tiene alguna pregunta sobre la encuesta o si desea enviar más información o sugerencias: housingconsultation@lewisham.gov.uk

● Si desea apoyo adicional de HASL para completar la encuesta, si tiene alguna pregunta o si desea participar y escuchar más sobre las actividades de HASL en esta importante encuesta / consulta, envíe un mensaje a nuestro teléfono de grupo 07930 062282 o envíe envíenos un correo electrónico: haslcases@gmail.com

● La encuesta no da espacio para explicar tus circunstancias personales de alojamiento y dar tus propias sugerencias y propuestas. Envíanos por correo tu testimonio personal explicando tu situación actual de alojamiento y como la nueva política te afectaría y estaremos recopilando estas para enviarlas al council. Envia tu testimonio a haslcases@gmail.com.

● La encuesta pregunta en la pregunta 21 en qué tipo de acomodación vives – por ejemplo, renta privada, acomodación temporal, alojamiento social pero la encuesta no da oportunidad de decir si estas sobrepoblada en tu casa. SI estás actualmente sobrepoblado, por favor hazme saber añadiendo esta frase al final de la primera respuesta:

Mi familia vive en un alojamiento sobrepoblado en un sector de renta privada y esta política me afecta directamente

La fecha límite para responder a la encuesta es el Domingo 14 Marzo 2021