7.30am Tuesday 13th October at 51 Benhill Road, Elmington Estate, Camberwell SE5 7QY
A family are facing eviction this Tuesday morning in Camberwell. This is the second time Southwark council are trying to throw the family on the street and have caused enormous stress for them. We stopped the bailiffs the first time and we can do it again – with your help and support! With enough people standing in the way we can stop the eviction.
But resisting the eviction isn’t enough. Southwark council must drop their claim that the family is ‘intentionally homeless’ – which is their excuse for evicting the family and getting rid of the legal duty they have to house them. We know that no one is intentionally homeless and we must make Southwark see that too! In this case it looks like the council have dragged up events from 2012 in desperation to prevent the family from accessing the help Southwark should be providing.
This family has been in temporary accommodation for years, Southwark should be providing them with stable, secure, council housing – not pushing them into further homelessness.
Bring yourself, your friends, neighbours – we’ll bring the breakfast! If you can’t make it on the day, please support us online on the day by retweeting and tweeting Southwark council to keep the family housed.
As we said, the eviction resistance will be the first action – there will be more until the family are guaranteed their homelessness duty with the intentionally homeless threat removed. Please join us!
This morning, around 40 people (including residents from the nearby Aylesbury estate campaign, Eviction Resistance, Revolutionary Workers Party, neighbours, and us!) squeezed onto a narrow balcony in Camberwell responding to a call out from 14 year old Saffi to help stop the eviction of her family by Southwark council.
“We constantly keep moving from one house to another nonstop for over the past years. This is extremely difficult because I am missing school and I have my GCSE exams and my family have been undergoing this difficult process all our life and I feel we need to put a stop to this. Thus I am pleading with all my might, that you come down and support us on along with some other generous people coming to peacefully protest and make our voices audible concerning the way the council are treating our community.”
Saffi, her sisters, mother, and grandmother are being housed by Southwark council in temporary accommodation, but as Saffi says, they have been continually evicted by the council and moved about – including being sent out to Plumstead. They are currently living on an estate that the council has marked for demolition.
The council were trying to evict the family for alleged rent arrears. They have lawyers who are appealing but in the mean time, collective action kept the family in their home. HASL have come across a similar situation which we wrote about here, where they evicted a family in temporary accommodation over alleged rent arrears and declared them ‘intentionally homeless’. But having rent arrears does not automatically make you ‘intentionally homeless’ as Southwark council seem to believe. We’ll be keeping an eye on Southwark over this.
Bailiffs and builders hid round the corner talking with a couple of police after witnessing the balcony full of people and banners determined to block their way.
Once we were sure the bailiffs had gone, Saffi’s mum delivered a powerful victory speech and invited us all in for a victory feast of jollof rice, chicken, and plantain.
A moving and inspiring morning! Thanks to everyone who came down!
If you’re facing eviction or worried about any other housing or benefit problems, you’re not alone, get in touch with your local group so that we can support each other and win! If you live in Lambeth or Southwark join HASL’s eviction phone network here and follow Eviction Resistance, London Coalition Against Poverty, and Radical Housing Network for housing action beyond Southwark and Lambeth.
In the past two weeks, HASL has supported two families to stop evictions after social services told them that they would no longer provide accommodation for them. Both the families had nowhere else to go, yet social services decided to withdraw the only accommodation the families had. Social services were housing these families because they were homeless – why were social services making the families homeless again?
In both cases, HASL members visited the families on the day of the eviction to provide eviction resistance support – cramming together into the tiny, and in one case, rat infested temporary accommodation to inform the landlord that they wouldn’t be leaving as they had nowhere else to go. Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 means that no one can force entry into an occupied home and HASL were there to support the families to enforce this. In both cases too, the attempts by a landlord to evict them would have been illegal as they did not have the court order required for an eviction for these types of temporary accommodation. Social services were taking no notice as families in their care faced illegal evictions.
Supporting K and her family last week, facing eviction as Lambeth social services refused to provide accommodation any longer for the family, lawyers we had contacted the previous day managed to negotiate an extra week with social services so the eviction was averted. Yet, when we called social services that morning with K to see what the situation was, her caseworker had still been refusing to extend the accommodation and callously said that putting K’s children into care was the only thing they would do. This is often used by social services as a nasty threat – the cost of putting children into care is extremely high and therefore social services would be reluctant to do this, but they use it to scare the families and to stop them from demanding the support they need from social services. The caseworker was overruled and the family were allowed to stay for a further week, after not only being subjected to the threat of eviction, but also the splitting up of their family at the hands of social services.
This week, we were contacted by S and her family, facing eviction after Southwark social services said they would no longer provide accommodation for the family. Again, a group of people from HASL went to be there to provide support for when the landlord arrived and to liaise with social services to extend the accommodation. The family were living in one room of a huge building full of other rooms that were being let out to homeless families. Someone from the business came to try and conduct an eviction. They seemed surprised to be met with resistance, informing us that “we do this all the time” (illegal evictions without a court order) and refused to listen to the legal information – section 6 and his need for a court order – that we were telling him. “We wouldn’t be able to run our business if people don’t leave” the man told us. His poverty profiteering business model is not under threat as he would like us to think – for every single room here, he was getting £400 a week. Liaising with Southwark social services, we managed to get them to agree a further month in the accommodation, and so the staff of the slum accommodation were appeased.
Collective action meant that K and S’s families were able to resist evictions and keep a roof over their heads. These are important and concrete wins.
Both these situations raise important issues about the ways social services are treating people and also the disgusting and exploitative temporary accommodation being provided to homeless people – where illegal evictions are standard practice.
Event in Windrush Square this Saturday 5th July from 2pm to discuss evictions and gentrification in our local area. Come along and share your thoughts and ideas. There will also be music and a quiz!
For more info, see this brilliant blog piece http://evictionbrixton.tumblr.com/post/53932807346/eviction-brixton