Tag Archives: social housing

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

Too Long in Temporary! Janeth’s family

 

Watch the short video we made with Janeth where she speaks about the difficulties of living Too Long in Temporary and the impacts on her family’s health.

In July this year, it marked the 6th year Janeth and her family have been living in temporary accommodation. Originally from Lambeth, the family have been housed in 5 different temporary accommodations across London. Lambeth council place homeless families in band C at the bottom of the housing waiting list meaning that Lambeth’s homeless households may never get the permanent, safe, secure council homes they need. We are supporting Janeth’s case and all homeless households who have spent Too Long in Temporary.

Janeth’s oldest child, aged 9, has spent over half his life living in temporary accommodation. Her other 3 children have spent all their lives living in temporary accommodation. The temporary accommodations have often been very poor quality – they have lived in a hostel, a severely overcrowded flat, and many of the properties have had infestations and damp and mould issues. The poor quality housing and constant moving has seriously affected the family’s health with the children developing coughs, asthma, skin rashes, and anxiety. They have suffered these health conditions for many years. Her oldest son is constantly worried that he will have to move home again and change schools. Homeless households and others suffering from bad living conditions are also at higher risk of catching and being worse affected by Covid 19, a Lancet article highlights the particular vulnerabilities of young children in temporary accommodation.

The family have submitted strong and detailed medical evidence to Lambeth council about the impact of their housing conditions on their health. The children’s school has stated that the housing situation is negatively impacting the children’s health and their future educational outcomes. Their GP called for an urgent move. Yet, despite this evidence, Lambeth council have refused to award the family band B on the housing register for an urgent medical move. The family received a very short and vague decision letter in July this year which failed to properly engage with the evidence submitted. Camden Community Law Centre are helping the family to review the decision and the family have now been waiting over a month for a response.

We are calling on Lambeth council to award the family band B based on the serious health issues they continue to suffer in temporary accommodation so that they can move into the permanent council housing they desperately need. As well as supporting homeless families who have an urgent medical need to move to permanent council housing, Lambeth council must also urgently change their housing allocations policy so that homeless households are not stuck at the bottom of the housing register with no hope of council housing.

We know there is a desperate shortage of high quality, safe, secure family-sized council homes in our communities. We campaign together for high quality, 3, 4, 5 bed council homes we need!

Lambeth’s Temp to Settled Scheme – what has changed and what happens now?

HASL visit Lambeth council’s Civic Centre last March protesting against the Temp2Settled policy

Were you homeless and housed by Lambeth council outside of the borough in private housing?

Were you placed in band B on the housing register?

Did your housing register bidding account get closed?

Did you hear about Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth and Public Interest Law Centre’s successful legal challenge which means your bidding account should be re-opened?

Our leaflet can help you understand your situation and your rights.

LEAFLET IN ENGLISH

FOLLETO EN ESPANOL

Following HASL and PILC’s important legal and campaign victory in June over Lambeth council, we have produced a new leaflet to explain what this means for families who were affected by the Temp to Settle scheme and who were removed from Lambeth’s housing register. Families affected by this scheme still could face problems in the future so please do get in contact with HASL so that we can support each other with our cases.

Many families who approached Lambeth council as homeless were not even aware that they were put on this Temp to Settle scheme – many only found out when their bidding accounts were closed. But if you were housed outside of Lambeth in private housing and were put into band B, it is likely that you were affected by this scheme.

If you are a Lambeth family (or if you used to live in Lambeth) who is  concerned or confused about your situation, please do get in contact with us by email or SMS/ whatsapp (details in leaflet)and we will do our best to help.

Don’t blame families for overcrowding!

A recent report showed that there are people 3.6 million people living in overcrowded housing.

Another report shows that 94% of private rented homes are too expensive for families on housing benefit.

Almost everyone accepts there is a housing crisis and that the root causes are the unregulated private rented sector, benefit cuts, low wages, and lack of social housing. There is huge support for social housing as one of the main solutions.

But Southwark council have taken a new approach to the housing crisis. They are blaming overcrowding on families themselves.

Recently, 5 families, living in overcrowded housing in the private rented sector, have received decisions telling them that they have deliberately caused their overcrowding. They have been put in band 4 at the bottom of the housing list where they have no chance of social housing. This is a big change in policy for Southwark council. Previously overcrowded families would be placed into band 3 and depending on the level of overcrowding, they may qualify for a priority star for statutory overcrowding. Some families may qualify for band 1. Now these families are being denied any priority for overcrowding and statutory overcrowding, a serious and severe level of overcrowding.

So what is going on?

These decisions are wrong, immoral and, we think, unlawful. They are hurtful and devastating for our members who receive them. How can Southwark council justify making these decisions against their own residents? Why are they blaming and targeting the victims of the housing crisis?

Many of these families are migrant families who already face significant discrimination and barriers to accessing decent housing. Why are Southwark council introducing new anti-migrant, discriminatory policies into their housing register?

We have written to Southwark’s councillor for housing Kieron Williams asking him for answers and to advocate on behalf of our members and all overcrowded families. 

The council must immediately change these decisions and give our members the priority they are entitled to.

We also feel our members are being targeted. We made a Freedom of Information request asking how many households had been placed into band 4 for ‘worsening circumstances’. In the last 12 months, there have been ‘less than 10’. However, in the last few months, 4 of our members have been put into band 4.

Our members are stuck in appalling conditions in overcrowded private rented housing because they have no other option, they could not rent anywhere else. They have been discriminated against by private landlords who won’t rent to them because they are claim benefits, because they do not speak English, and for having children.

Now they are discriminated against by Southwark council who tell them the overcrowding is their own fault.

Meanwhile, we know that Southwark council are housing homeless families in temporary accommodation that is overcrowded, including temporary accommodation that is statutory overcrowded. When our members challenge the council on these overcrowded conditions, the council are happy to use the housing crisis as their excuse.

We will be campaigning in support of our HASL families and all overcrowded families to make Southwark treat them properly!

 

From the 35% Campaign: Southwark’s lost section 106 social housing

section 106.jpg

Last week, great research conducted by 35% campaign revealed how Southwark council have failed to make sure that developers stick to their promises and provide the agreed amount of social housing in new developments.

In Southwark, there are around 25,000 people on the housing waiting list – many who are homeless or in poor quality accommodation and are desperately in need of secure, quality council homes (these statistics are from 2012, since this year, local councils have been desperately trying to cut their waiting lists so that demand for social housing looks less).

When we visited Southwark council last week in support of 5 HASL families who live in severely overcrowded private rented housing – the council made excuses that they don’t have enough council housing. Instead of making excuses, the council must treat homeless households and others in housing need with more respect by actually making sure developers deliver the social housing that we desperately need.

We’re not at all surprised that Southwark council haven’t bothered to look after social housing for their residents (just look at the Heygate and Aylesbury estates!) – we have experienced first hand their disrespect for homeless households and others in housing need. But we will hold them to account for their actions and fight together for the quality homes we all need and deserve!

Cross posted from 35% campaign

Southwark’s lost section 106 social housing

Ombudsman finds Council doesn’t know how much social housing it’s getting from developers

Posted on December 12, 2016

The Local Government Ombudsman has issued the damning judgement that Southwark Council has no procedure to ensure that social rented housing approved by the Council’s planning committee is actually being delivered. The Ombudsman further found that without a monitoring procedure ‘it is hard to know ..how many social housing units…developers [have] delivered’. Or indeed, how many remain social housing units.’

The Ombudsman’s decision came after the 35% Campaign referred its complaint that planning consents were being breached, listing 43 developments where we thought the social rented housing may not have been delivered as required.

In her decision notice, the Ombudsman said:

“In response to my enquiries the Council says it is taking legal action in response to several of the breaches identified by Mr X. It also accepts it did not have a systematic supervision procedure to check compliance. It relied on developers’ voluntary compliance.” (para. 12)

She concludes that ‘the Council accepts that fault’ and has agreed to roll out ‘a borough-wide annual audit to ensure compliance’, nonetheless noting that ‘until that audit is complete it is hard to know how many social housing units all section 106 agreements called for and how many developers delivered. Or indeed, how many remain social housing units.’ (para 20)

Despite the Ombudsman’s decision and Southwark’s own admission that it had no monitoring procedure in place, no further action is proposed in any of the other instances submitted – aside from the two cases subject to legal action (the Jam Factory and Signal Tower). This leaves unresolved issues about the levels of rent being charged for purportedly social rented properties.

Background

Our complaint was prompted after we discovered that the Richard Rogers Neo Banksidedevelopment had provided 32 social rented homes fewer than the number agreed at planning committee.

Following this we discovered that 44 social rented units had been lost from the Bermondsey Spa regeneration and had instead been switched to affordable rent, at 62% market rent, by housing provider Notting Hill Housing Trust (NHHT).

Local news coverage of the story: 21/05/15; 01/10/15; 11/02/16

The lost Bermondsey Spa homes were raised at the Aylesbury estate CPO inquiry in May 2015. The Council assured the inquiry that it had robust procedures in place and that it monitored compliance of S106 affordable housing provision every 12-18 months. This was evidently not true, but was asserted to show that NHHT could be trusted to deliver social rented housing in the Aylesbury regeneration.

Inquiry document 27 – evidence submitted by the Council to the CPO public inquiry, 12/05/2015

Southwark struck a deal with NHHT to reprovide the 44 lost social rented units on another site – Manor Place depot, but this deal double counted the social rented units and in any event the development is still not under construction.

Social rent is not affordable rent

Social rent is calculated by using a legal formula, based primarily on average local earnings; in Southwark social rent currently equates to between 19-25% market rate and this percentage falls as market rents rise.

Our list of suspect developments shows many where the level of rent identifies them as affordable rent, not social rent. The list was compliled by cross-checking planning committee reports, section 106 agreements, Land Registry information, the GLA affordable housing outturn dataset and CORE lettings data.

Amongst the sites we’ve looked at where the ‘social rent’ is higher than it should be, are the following;

Colorama buildings

This redevelopment of the former Colorama film processing warehouse in SE1 was completed in April 2016 and should have provided a total of 19 social rented habitable rooms, about 8 units, according to the planning report.

However, GLA affordable housing outturn data, shows that the developer has provided affordable rent, not social rent. These range up to 59% market rent, giving rent levels of £215pw (excl. service charge) for a 1-bed flat, over twice the current average social rent in Southwark (£100 pw).

143-149 Rye Ln/1-15 B’mouth Rd SE15 4ST (L&Q)

Southwark’s planning committee report (06/AP/0995) approved 61 new homes of which 7 should have been social rent, but the GLA dataset shows that these have been delivered by London & Quadrant as affordable rent of between 74% and 78% market rent.

32 Crosby Row SE1 3PT (Family Mosaic)

Southwark’s planning committee report (11/AP/0140) approved the demolition of St Hugh’s church on Crosby Row and the construction of 22 new homes, which should have included 5 social rented units. But the GLA dataset shows that these have been delivered by Family Mosaic as affordable rent at up to 57% of market rent.

177-184 Grange Road, Bermondsey (Linden Homes Ltd)

The planning committee report (11/AP/1390) for this development approved 38 new homes, of which 9 were supposed to be social rented units. The GLA data shows that these have been delivered by Leicester Housing Association as affordable rent of up to 52% market rent.

34-42 Grange Road, Bermondsey (Bellway Homes)

Southwark’s planning committee report (11/AP/3251) approved 41 new homes of which 8 should have been social rented, but the GLA dataset shows that these have been delivered by Leicester Housing Association at affordable rent of up to 52% market rent.

Royal Road, Kennington SE17 3DA (Affinity Sutton)

This development was built on the site of a former old people’s home. The site was designated as one of the replacement housing sites for decanted Heygate tenants and sold by the Council, at cost, to Affinity Sutton housing association. Notwithstanding this, the new development wasn’t completed until 5 years after the Heygate was demolished and the government’s CORE lettings database is showing only 45 units let at social rents at this site, while 76 is the number required by the planning consent and correspondingsection 106 agreement.

430 Old Kent Road SE1 5AG – (Family Mosaic)

This is one of the Neo-Bankside off-site affordable housing sites, which according to Southwark’s planning committee report (11/AP/0138) approved 22 social rented units, but the GLA dataset shows that these have been delivered at affordable rents of up to 49% market rent.

Silwood estate regeneration Site 4B (Notting Hill HT)

This is yet another Notting Hill Housing Trust redevelopment of a council estate. It was supposed to provide 22 social rented homes as part of its redevelopment of the Silwood estate involving the demolition of 57 council homes and construction of 127 new homes. The definition of social rented in the section 106 agreement is worded as affordable rent and the CORE lettings data system shows that only 19 units have been let at social rent levels.

Conclusion

Southwark has confessed that up until now it has not ensured that social rented housing has been delivered in accordance with planning approvals, but instead relied on‘voluntary compliance’. Southwark promises an annual public audit as a remedy, with some unspecified ‘further investigation to ensure accuracy’ and has budgeted £60,000 for this. Developers and, unfortunately, housing associations have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted, so we doubt that this will be enough.

Southwark charges developers a 2% administration fee on the sum total of financial S106 contributions, including affordable housing. The table below shows this amounts to be a considerable sum each year and far more of it should be invested to ensure that the affordable housing conditions are properly monitored and enforced.

Extract from the Council’s most recent S106 contributions report

We also need an audit not just ‘going forward’ but also one looking back, an historical audit of all relevant planning applications for an least the past 10 years, to retreive the social housing that Southwark Council has lost through being let at higher than social rents. Only when Southwark has done this will we believe that it is ‘leading the fight for social housing’ as it claims and is not the developers’ free-for-all it has been labelled.

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.

Guinness Partnership – stop making people homeless! Local, social housing for all residents of the Guinness Trust estate

Protest with us on Friday 4th July, 3.30pm meeting at the front of Guinness Trust estate, Loughborough Park, SW9 8NL.

Residents of the Guinness Trust estate, Loughborough Park, are campaigning against so-called ‘social landlord’, Guinness Partnership, who have been making tenants on Assured Shorthold Tenancies (insecure tenancies) homeless as part of the ‘regeneration’ of the estate. Guiness Partnership will in total have made 150 households homeless by the end of the ‘regeneration’. Those that qualify for ‘help’ from Lambeth council face months of exile as Lambeth house hundreds outside the borough while they process their claim for homelessness.

Together, Guinness Trust estate residents, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, and Lambeth Housing Activists are calling on Guinness Partnership to provide local, social housing for all residents faced with eviction and homelessness. We welcome you to get involved too! Why not contact Guinness Partnership expressing your concern at a ‘social landlord’ making people homeless, there contact details are here and you can tweet them here.

Keep your eyes on our blog for more news and updates, and get in contact if you’d like to get involved: haslemail[at]gmail.com

Guinness Trust estate is one of many estates across London being subjected to ‘regeneration’. Regeneration for who, though? For many residents and communities, this means eviction, homelessness, displacement, and the loss of desperately needed social housing. This quality article on the Brixton Blog includes residents of the Guinness Trust describing the impact of eviction on their lives. One person describes how they were admitted to hospital for four weeks after being evicted by Guinness Partnership. The residents describe how the regeneration is a process of social and ethnic cleansing.

Residents on the estate tried to organise together back in 2010 to have a say in the regeneration, but their attempts were frustrated by the Guinness Partnership who refused to acknowledge their tenants group and allow them use of the community centre. At one of the protests, the residents were threatened by the police and this also contributed to the end of the campaign. ‘9 Stories in Brixton’, a film made by the residents can be seen below. But the residents haven’t given up on their campaign, it’s starting up again.

 

A Guinness Trust AST resident has written to Lambeth council leader Lib Peck asking for her support for the rehousing of Guinness Trust AST residents by Guinness Parternship. Read her letter below
Continue reading

Esther and Her Family Rehoused!

We’re really happy to hear that Esther and her family are being rehoused by Metropolitan housing association in their local area. Esther, ourselves, and Lambeth Housing Activists confronted Metropolitan last week about making the family homeless and demanded that they fulfil their duties as a so-called ‘social landlord’ and rehouse the family locally. By their deadline of Friday, Metropolitan had been in contact with Esther to offer her a choice two flats in the local area. Collective action works! A massive thanks to everyone who supported Esther. Let’s keep on organising together for quality, secure, truly affordable homes for everyone!

We met Esther when she was at Lambeth housing office on Brixton hill being told her and her family would have to live in temporary accommodation across London in Hackney away from their school, work, and community. HASL members accompanied Esther in the housing office to challenge them about this completely inappropriate accommodation. There we were told that homeless people and families are being sent to temporary accommodation in Enfield, Dagenham, and Margate. Others on the Clapham Park estate are facing eviction by Metropolitan as part of their regeneration scheme – a similar story is happening on other estates across Southwark and Lambeth.

Join us at our regular meetings to discuss what we can do together about these issues and any other housing or welfare issues you’d like to take action on. Our next meeting is this Thursday 10th at 12pm at Southwyck Community Hall on the Moorlands estate off Moorlands road. We will be leafletting at Olive Morris House just up from Lambeth town hall on Brixton hill beforehand from 10am if you’d like to join us.