- Created: Tuesday, 09 January 2018 12:30
- Written by Séamus Padraic and Annie Richards
Nottingham RCG is working with the Nottingham Housing Justice Forum (NHJF) to campaign for decent housing for all. Recently the NHJF has been supporting one of its members, Lorraine who, along with her teenage children (one of whom has acute special needs), was facing eviction on New Years’ Day. The local Housing Office has known about her situation since June but it took until October for Nottingham City Council to acknowledge that it has a duty to rehouse Lorraine locally. Even then all that was offered was temporary hostel accommodation, entirely unsuitable for her disabled son. In response, the campaign has held regular protests outside the City Hall and delivered over 240 petition signatures to Jon Collins, Labour leader of the Council. Days before Christmas Lorraine was informed that she would be rehoused in a temporary house, a great victory for the campaign. The campaign is clear that the pressure we applied has had no small part to play in this. As Lorraine said: ‘You have to be the one to stand up. Otherwise they’ll walk all over you.’
NHJF has organised weekly pickets outside the Housing Aid offices under the slogan ‘Homes not Hostels’. We have spoken with dozens of people facing homelessness. Common themes emerged of people being moved to temporary accommodation in other cities, of street homeless people fearing certain hostels which they see as unsafe, and people feeling let down and degraded by staff at the Housing Office. One homeless man we spoke to suggested that Housing Aid should change the sign above its door to ‘Nope’ as this would be a better explanation of what happens inside. His personal situation was that his benefits were sanctioned because he failed to declare himself as homeless. He is now homeless with no benefits.
Meanwhile, glossy council posters on bins and bus-stops around the city centre assert that ‘No one need sleep rough this winter’, the implication being that there is no crisis in housing and that rough sleeping is a lifestyle choice. In November we asked a question to the Full Council meeting about the numbers of people in temporary hotel accommodation with no access to cooking facilities. The Labour Council postponed answering until two months later at the January meeting of the Full Council! We invite anyone based in Nottingham to join us outside the next council meeting on 22 January 2018 at 1.30pm and continue the fight for decent housing for all.
Séamus Padraic and Annie Richards