It’s been our busiest year yet! Our regular meetings have had 50-90 members attending all facing immediate housing problems. We’re still learning how to organise ourselves in such large numbers and we’re really thankful to all our members for their patience, co-operation, support and commitment to helping run these meetings as smoothly as possible. We couldn’t do it without you! It’s at our fortnightly group meetings where so much of our group support, information sharing, organising, action planning, and socialising happens as this means we can draw on all of our experience and knowledge.
It has been the involvement and support of our members that have helped us to achieve so much this year. It’s really inspiring seeing our members learn their housing rights, sharing this information with others and supporting each other’s cases and the work of the group as we grow. We’re building a really strong network of people across our boroughs where we support each other with housing and other poverty problems and work on them together.
We’ve seen so many of our housing situations improve with the support of the group, our group meetings are running really well, we’ve had some amazing parties, we’re building local campaigns in our boroughs, our kids activities and co-ordination is improving, and we’re making good links with other organisations (such as the Public Interest Law Centre) to support each others work. We know that the housing crisis in London means so many people are suffering every day from homelessness, overcrowding and other housing problems, but we know that by sticking together, we can fight for the good quality, safe, secure homes in our communities that we all need. We’re already got lots of plans and ideas for 2019!
Here are just some of the things we’ve been up to this year. HASL members, let us know if we’ve missed your highlight!
Our first meeting of the year was a busy one with 50 people attending!
Our member H, a single mother who is a refugee, was facing eviction from Southwark council temporary accommodation. Through twitter pressure from the group and help from Southwark Law Centre, the council confirmed that they would not be evicting her and that she had a full homeless duty. After a year and a half living in hostel accommodation, the council also provided her with good temporary accommodation in a self-contained flat in the local area.
We joined two protests at Southwark Council’s Tooley street HQ against the demolition of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre – we need our community spaces and leisure facilities, cafes, and bingo!
We organised a small group training session for some of our members in Spanish to talk about how to help run the group – we’re hoping to run more of these skill share sessions so that we can share ideas of how we can help the group run more effectively.
We showed our support for the women in Yarls Wood who were on hunger strike demanding freedom and dignity. Many of our members’ lives are affected by harmful immigration controls and rules that seek to exclude us from vital services (including housing) and push us into poverty.
Our youngest member yet attended our meeting, a 5 day old baby!
Council housing celebration meet up – a number of our members recently got keys and their council tenancy so we met up to celebrate as well as talk about the practicalities of moving home, problems with Universal Credit, and some of their new and important rights as council tenants.
A very busy HASL kids club with a workshop for adults explaining about bidding for council housing.
One of our long term members secured a council home after a long struggle. She is a survivor of domestic violence and had been homeless for almost 2 years. It was a really long struggle and it should never be this way, but it was wonderful news.
We were able to achieve this together by buddying, group support and finding good lawyers, our friends at the Public Interest Law Centre and an incredible amount of determination from our member.
Our member F, a homeless survivor of domestic violence, was being denied temporary accommodation by Southwark council. Thanks to twitter pressure we were able to help her secure the temporary accommodation she desperately needed.
Our meetings kept on growing and so have people’s contributions – plates of food arrived at our meeting, we had fresh luxury bread and brownies, and our kids care team were wonderful.
We protested at Lambeth council in support of our member Ruben and all overcrowded families. A month later, Ruben heard from Lambeth that he had been placed higher up on the housing register where he would be able to bid successfully for council housing.
We ran a small group workshop for our members about hostel accommodation and what their rights are. Lots of our members, especially Southwark members, have been being housed in hostel accommodation over the 6 week limit (which applies to B&B hostel accommodation that is privately run).
Our blog on the Homelessness Reduction Act (which came into force on 3rd April)
At our meeting we spoke about the Grenfell tragedy, the need for justice and how we must demand secure, safe good quality council homes for everyone.
We had a stall at the London Radical Bookfair in Lewisham where we talked with people about housing rights and the group.
We organised a small group meet up for families in overcrowded housing to learn their rights and make plans on their cases.
Southwark council were trying to evict our member L from temporary accommodation. We buddied her at the housing office and with a combination of twitter pressure and determination at the housing office, we were able to ensure that the council provided new temporary accommodation for her.
A private landlord stolen our member’s son’s bike and was threatening to destroy it! We contacted him in support of our member and got him to agree to return the bike undamaged. This is why we fight together for good quality council homes.
We supported our member at court who was challenging a possession order from their private landlord.
We joined another protest to support Elephant and Castle shopping centre against developer Delancy and Southwark council’s disastrous plans for it.
We went to the Edinburgh Anarchist Feminist Bookfair where we joined a workshop on housing campaigns and organising.
Our member F was facing eviction from temporary accommodation. With the support of lawyers and a twitter storm, we were able to secure her temporary accommodation.
Summer picnic in Burgess park
Really big summer bank holiday meeting! We started the meeting sharing lots of recent successes which is a great way to start!
HASL goes global! An interview with us was translated into Japanese!
We ran another council tenancy rights workshop and celebration with our members who recently got their keys and contracts.
HASL surprise birthday party for one of our members!
Our member D was facing eviction from Southwark council temporary accommodation due to rent arrears caused by Universal Credit. A public twitter storm helped to stop it and we’ve been working with our member with the support of Southwark Law Centre to resolve the Universal Credit issues.
Southwark council – stop evicting people from temporary accommodation! Our blog post and demand.
Southwark council have been trying to evict homeless families from temporary accommodation for rent arrears caused by problems with Universal Credit. We’re demanding that the council stop all evictions from temporary accommodation. Homeless families need support and council homes – not evictions!
We’ve supported 6 families this year who were threatened with eviction by Southwark council for rent arrears. The eviction threats caused the families great distress.
Southwark council overcrowding victory with our friends Public Interest Law Centre!
Read this great article featuring our member Maryuri talking about her and her family’s experience of overcrowded housing and her successful legal challenge against Southwark council with us and Public Interest Law Unit.
We’re so proud of all of our members who have been campaigning on overcrowding and other housing issues and we’re seeing some good results!
Another HASL-PILC success as our member V and his family are given band 2 on Southwark’s housing register after we supported them to review the council’s original negative decision.
We attended the Rebel Law Conference and the SolFed conference talking about our housing organising and campaigning.
We supported our member in court. She is a Lambeth resident facing a section 21 no-fault eviction from her private landlord. We provided practical and moral support for our member. Going to court with the fear of losing your home is a very stressful experience. Don’t struggle alone, join your local housing action group!
Due to a factual dispute, the judge was unable to make a decision on the case and there will be another hearing in the new year. We will continue to support our member with her case and we will be back then to support our member to keep her home!
We attended an incredibly helpful and clear Homelessness Reduction Act training with LCAP supporter Lou, from Miles and Partners solicitors.
Our end of year celebration was a massive success. It was wonderful to see so many old and new faces and celebrate everything we’ve achieved this year. We had so much delicious food and cake and the children painted an awesome banner with one of our main demands ‘We need 3, 4, 5 bed council homes’. Our last meeting of the year was also really special thanks to our members’ efforts and surprises!
Our member L is a survivor of domestic violence who has been battling Southwark council for a full homeless duty. We’ve been supporting her with her case and when Southwark council threatened to evict her from temporary accommodation, our twitter pressure helped to extend her temporary accommodation.
We’re supporting our member Susana to stop Lambeth from kicking her off the housing register as part of our wider campaign against Lambeth’s unfair treatment of homeless families. Our members Susana and Flavia made this brilliant video explaining Lambeth’s trick that they target homeless families with.