Created: Tuesday, 16 June 2015 15:42
Written by South London branch
Supporters of south London Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG), People Before Profit (PBP), Focus E15, and supporters from various organisations including south-east London People's Assembly and Left Unity gathered outside Lewisham Council offices today together with Sandra, a Catford resident who has been homeless since last year.
Sandra, who has health issues (including diabetes, back problems, high blood pressure), has been living on the floor at the flat of her daughter (who has five children, two with severe disabilities).
Sandra also has been forced to stay with a friend who has a one bedroom flat and a baby (and sleep on the sofa).
This is not sustainable or acceptable. Sandra’s life is paying the cost of Lewisham’s poor housing policy.
Sandra, accompanied by the two RCG and PBP supporters, was stopped at the council’s door and refused entry by private security. This is unlawful.
Lewisham Council then called the police on Sandra – this is what British ‘democracy’ looks like!
Team Leader at Housing Options Alex Clarke told Sandra they refuse to deal with single persons - instead fobbing them off SHIP (see below) where people are processed and either deemed ‘worthy’ of the few flats Lewisham bother making available, or they are left on to the streets with no further support.
Around 30 protesters joined Sandra to protest outside, using the sound system to demand Lewisham Council rehouse Sandra immediately. There was massive support from passers by and local people!
A meeting then took place at the Single Homeless Intervention and Prevention (SHIP) building across the road, where council worker John Barker explained to Sandra and two supporters, that he ‘could make no promises’ and explained the slim chances Sandra had of getting any real support from the council.
The council can not even provide a list of local estate agents which will take on Housing Benefit claimants.
John refused to discuss ‘politics’ when dealing with Sandra’s homelessness, but often cited political reasons (the cuts) to refuse Sandra support.
This leaves people like Sandra with no where to turn.
John Barker admitted three people have died this year due to poverty and housing issues.
Does Lewisham Council have blood on their hands? We can only let readers decide that…
If Lewisham Council can not resolve the housing crisis they should get out of the way and let the people of Lewisham work it out. We have the answer - BUILD COUNCIL HOMES not private bourgeois flats to sell off to the rich.
Sandra is just another unwanted statistic to Lewisham Council’s little housing ‘problem’:
- 17,000 on the council waiting list – no real plan to address this issue.
- Thousands homeless, with evictions increasing due to benefit cuts and rent hikes.
- Lack of council houses means 600 in B&Bs costing the council (i.e. everyone) £2m per year.
Sandra’s application for homelessness in 2015 was deemed ‘unsuccessful’ – Sandra’s health issues being completely ignored on the application itself. This is how thousands end up with no where to live, neglected even by their own ‘elected representatives’.
The RCG will be back with Sandra, and others. We have secured a further meeting with the council to discuss Sandra’s case. We will support Sandra in her fight to obtain secure housing.
Sandra will apply for homelessness support again at Lewisham council and we will continue to demand the council support Sandra in finding a accommodation amongst the Lewisham estate agents who say ‘No DSS’ (no Housing Benefit applicants) - which is discrimination.
The RCG seek housing for all. Housing is a human right, here to stay, here to fight! If you would like to join us come to:
Lewisham Housing Action Group, Thursday 26 June, 730pm at Catford Constitutional Club (side door), The Broadway, SE64DP.