Lewisham protest demands housing for Sandra, housing for all!

Protesting against Lewisham Council's housing policy

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!

Sandra was initially prevented from getting in

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.

ALL WELCOME

Jasmin for Focus E15 speaking about housing

Victory! No charges to be brought against Jasmin Stone of Focus E15 campaign

On 13 April, Jasmin Stone of Focus E15 campaign and supporter of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! was arrested on suspicion of squatting in a raid organised by Newham council and police. There followed a loud and militant demonstration at the police station where she was held and she was bailed to attend a police station in mid May. We have just heard that no charges will be brought against her.

In the lead up to the arrest, the  Focus E15 campaign had been supporting Jane Wood, who had lived in Newham council accommodation, east London, for almost 21 years. On 24 March she and her 14-year-old daughter were evicted by bailiffs for rent arrears resulting from complex personal and medical circumstances leading to her Employment Support Allowance being stopped. At the last minute, when her family rallied around and offered to pay the outstanding debt, the Labour council refused to take the money, call off the bailiffs or allow Jane to keep her home.

Newham council is led by Labour Mayor Robin Wales, an unashamed advocate of gentrification, supporter of sanctioning and kicking out the poor and most vulnerable. Under his rule, 400 homes on the Carpenters’ Estate remain empty, while homeless people, whom the council has a statutory duty to house, are forced to move out of London.

This is an example of political policing and a targeted arrest in an attempt to silence and intimidate political activists. We will not accept the criminalisation of those who fight for social housing and against social cleansing.

Focus E15 campaign and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Group, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! will be celebrating this victory on the weekly Focus E15 stall this Saturday 16 May from 12-2pm on The Broadway, Stratford E15, outside Wilko's. Come and join us.

Sweets Way campaign takes to the streets (Photo and video report)

Yes – the day before the 2015 General Election Sweets Way Resists put out a reminder of what the real political struggle in this country is about – social housing – public services – people before profits. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joined former residents and other supporters of Sweets Way in a show of solidarity with a mother who had been evicted by Barnet Council and placed in temporary accommodation in west London. As Juliet explained to a Sweets Way Resists campaign meeting the night before, her life, and that of her four children, had been destroyed. She was unable to travel to her job; her eldest child was expected to make a one and a half hour journey to her school morning and afternoon, despite being in her GCSE year. The letters she had received from the council after a three months silence following her appeal were threatening bureaucratic bullying.

On Wednesday 6 May we gathered to support Juliet who had a ‘last chance’ meeting with the council. We took to the roadway, the busy A1000 into London, blocking the traffic and asking for drivers to ‘honk’ their support for social housing – not social cleansing. With the news that Juliet had been offered accommodation in Barnet, we held a march of victory to Sweets Way. Only a partial victory, of course. Other displaced tenants of Sweets Way still have to be rehoused in THEIR area. And after the election, the fight against the property corporations, like Annington Homes, developers of Sweets Way and the collusion of local councils, like Barnet Council with the private sector will have to continue and gather pace.

Voting against cuts and privatisation in North London

North London RCG gave the people of Holloway the chance to vote early this Saturday during our regular weekend stall against the sell off of the Whittington Hospital and the privatisation of the NHS. As well as collecting petition signatures and handing out leaflets, we invited people to submit their vote to the ballot box. Unlike the charade that will pass for democracy on Thursday, our election wasn’t about voting for career politicians and corrupt political parties. Instead they ticked for free education, healthcare, social housing, no to austerity, imperialist war and racism and, particularly popular, send corrupt politicians jail and end corporate tax evasion.

Islington Council uses divide and rule to justify cutting vital services. We do not accept responsibility for choosing who should suffer worst. Take wealth from the bankers, the corporations, the politicians and give resources to those who need them. No cuts, full stop!

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