Created: Friday, 10 November 2017 12:39
Written by Sam McGill and Joe Bower
Victory! Following public pressure from the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum (MAJF) including FRFI supporters, Newcastle City Council has begun to take legal enforcement action against private housing and construction company JOMAST for breaking overcrowding regulations under section 139 of the Housing Act 2004. Hiding behind outdated housing law, JOMAST expect unrelated same sex adults to share bedrooms and cram multiple families into flats and hostels. Months of consistent protests, collecting testimonies and documenting asylum housing conditions have begun to yield results: several JOMAST residents have now been given their own bedroom after pressure from the campaign led to properties being inspected by Newcastle city council. This victory shows that asylum seekers and their supporters can organise to improve housing conditions.
The Home Office has contracted out the provision of housing for asylum seekers to the notorious G4S, which in turn has subcontracted private company JOMAST in the north east. JOMAST is making a fortune for housing people in run down, overcrowded accommodation. Newcastle City Council passed a policy against forced bedroom sharing in March 2017 but JOMAST ignored this. In response, MAJF rallied at the council in June to highlight the continued practice and demand the policy be enforced. Cabinet member Councillor Kilgour committed the council to 'inspect and if necessary take appropriate action in cases of forced room sharing against the wishes of the occupants'. Taking up this commitment, MAJF has knocked on doors and leafleted drop-in centres and has supported scores of residents to complain, leading to several victories. The campaign is calling on other councils to take similar action.
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