Haringey Housing Action Group supports the efforts of local residents who are trying to defend and improve their housing situation in the face of “regeneration” threats. Below is a callout from community groups on Broadwater Farm about an upcoming meeting and their request for support.
Object now! Public Meeting Wed 24th Feb!
From: Broadwater Farm Residents’ Association, Broadwater United Sports And Football Academy, Broadwater Farm Enterprise Centre, Somerset Close residents group, Lordship Lane petitioners, Moira Close petitioners, Back 2 Earth @ BWF Community Centre, Friends of Lordship Rec, Rockstone Foundation
Broadwater Farm Area estates under ‘red-zone’ threat
LORDSHIP REC SAVED! LET’S CONTINUE TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER!
DEFEND OUR LOCAL ESTATES
DURDURUN BROADWATER FARM’IN YIKILMASINI.
Object now to shocking ‘second stage’ proposals by the Council which could lead to future blight, demolition and ‘redevelopment’ of parts or all of Broadwater Farm, Somerset Close, Lido Square, Moira Close, the Broadwater Farm Community Centre, and nearby homes along Lordship Lane. The official ‘consultation’ is on until March 4th – please support the local residents’ campaign…
Public Meeting @ Broadwater Farm Community Centre Read the rest of this post »
We recently supported one of our members, M, who faced gatekeeping from Haringey Council when she attempted to apply as homeless. This was not a one-off incident. Our previous experiences show that the council consistently fails to do its duty, and the comments made to M by a housing officer confirm this. We’re calling on Haringey Council to stop its unlawful gatekeeping practices.
M first reported her homelessness in July, and was moved back and forth between advisers. She told them she was due to be evicted in October, that she couldn’t afford a deposit for a new home, and that she is vulnerable because of her physical health. This should have given the council reason to believe M was homeless, meaning that they had a duty to offer her a homelessness assessment. At the very least, if they refused to do so, they should have given her a S.184 letter explaining why. Read the rest of this post »
M is a Haringey resident. She is due to be evicted by the council this Tuesday (10 November). When she came to our meeting last week, she told us that the council want to evict her because of rent arrears, despite the fact that she has already put a plan in place to pay her arrears off, and has been steadily paying them off since earlier this year.
Because M made a verbal agreement with the council to pay off her arrears, and because she has followed that agreement completely, we think it would be utterly unreasonable for Haringey Council to evict her. It would also cause considerable hardship to her and her daughter, not only putting them through the stress of an eviction, but effectively forcing the family off the council’s waiting list and denying them the permanent home they have been waiting for for over a decade. Read the rest of this post »
We are regular users of Apex House, which is where the council’s housing office is based. And we were alarmed to hear the plans for it – both to re-build it as a 22-storey eyesore with most of it being let as privately rented homes by an institutional/commercial landlord. We’ve spoken to staff at the Housing Office who are also shocked that this is what the land will be used for. In their informed opinion, the area needs more genuinely affordable social housing – not housing at market rent levels! But there are no plans for social housing on the site, and who knows what kind of affordable housing. Possibly only Shared Ownership, which as many of us know, is generally not affordable to current residents of Tottenham.
You can read our previous article about the development here. But the rest of this article is a plea received from the Friends of Marcus Garvey library to register your objections (or support) by this Friday (30th October). We have pasted it in full – the only small thing we would disagree with is the idea that Grainger has thrown any crumbs our way – what about the sweeteners they got for the area around Wards Corner? And just how much have they paid for the Apex House site? They are building an empire in Tottenham, and it is being gifted to them by Haringey Council. Read on for how to stop them (at least for now). Read the rest of this post »
Focus E15 fought an inspiring campaign for better housing for their members, after Newham Council pulled the funding on their homeless hostel. They faced eviction and the prospect of being dispersed around the country, but using a variety of tactics, including occupations of the housing office, a march and weekly street stalls, they managed to get re-housed locally around Newham. Read the rest of this post »
UPDATE: Success! Ms L was offered accommodation starting from 23 June. Separate report of the action to follow.
At our group meeting last week, a friend of one of our members came along – Ms L. She is a single mother of two, and is due to be evicted on 2 July from her flat in Tottenham which she has been privately renting for seven years.
Ms L has been in touch with Haringey Council throughout her eviction process, from being served a section 21 notice at the beginning of the year, through to the possession order in May 2015 and then, at the beginning of this month, when she was given an eviction notice. At each stage, the council have told her that they will not house her until the date of her eviction.
However, the date of the eviction is now set to happen just five days after she is due to give birth. Read the rest of this post »
This evening, 27th May, the council is holding a Development Management Forum at CoNEL presumably to “consult” with the public over the plans for Apex House. Some have questioned why the meeting has been arranged with so little publicity. Others will be only too familiar with the way in which the council likes to keeps its dealings with Grainger under the radar.
Apex House is a three-storey building on the corner of Seven Sisters Road and Tottenham High Road. Many local residents will know it as South Tottenham Customer Centre. Many more will just know it as “the housing office”, because this is where you have to come if you are homeless, facing eviction or having trouble paying your rent. Read the rest of this post »
Protest outside the £300-a-head ‘regeneration and redevelopment’ event at our Town Hall
Thursday 26th March, 1pm – 2pm
Tottenham Town Hall, Town Hall Approach Rd, London N15 4RY
Protest called by the Our Tottenham Coordination Group, Haringey Housing Action Group, Taxpayers Against Poverty, and Haringey Solidarity Group. All supporters are welcome to bring relevant placards and banners…
We believe that those who live and work in Tottenham should be driving forward the decisions about the future of our communities. Instead we have unaccountable property developers, Councillors and private companies trying to impose their top-down, profit-led mass ‘regeneration and redevelopment’ schemes all over our neighbourhoods.
As the Tottenham public are excluded from this elitist event for so-called ‘key stakeholders’ [see below], we call on local people to attend the protest/rally outside to make our voices known…We invite all the real key stakeholders to join in. Read the rest of this post »
Today we have been give the runaround by Haringey Council. All we wanted was for a housing benefit officer to speak to a homelessness officer.
One of our members had been evicted from a privately rented property. She applied as homeless to the council, but the council eventually denied that they had a duty to house her, stating that she had made herself “intentionally homeless”. One of the key reasons why they had come to this decision was, they said, due to rent arrears as a result of rent she had withheld from the landlady.
She had made it clear to the council’s homelessness team that her rent was being paid by housing benefit, and was being paid directly to the landlady. If this was the case, how then could this have led to a “deliberate act or omission” on her part? A simple phone call from the homelessness team to the housing benefit office could have confirmed this. Read the rest of this post »
Today, members of Haringey Housing Action Group distributed leaflets outside Apex House (South Tottenham Customer Service Centre), to make people aware about some changes that councils are making to the way they house homeless households. This was just one of many actions happening across London as part of the Radical Housing Network’s week of action. (Read about HASL’s occupation of Lambeth Town Hall.)
Since November 2012, there have been some important changes to homelessness provision by local councils. These changes mean that homeless people that the council have a duty to house may now only be entitled to private sector accommodation.
Previously, homeless households could refuse a council’s offers of private sector accommodation and wait until secure, affordable social housing became available (often waiting for years, living in poor quality temporary accommodation). However, now, if a council makes an offer of a one-year tenancy in the private sector, people will be forced into taking this offer or face the council ending its duty towards them.
Moving Homeless Households out of London
Haringey Council has reportedly not been using this option because private housing in our borough would be unaffordable to most people in temporary accommodation, and so would not be suitable. This has not stopped council officers from putting pressure on homeless households to accept private rented accommodation on the outskirts of London, and in places as far away as Birmingham. The council’s official policy does not state that they are doing this, but our members, and other people we have spoken to, say that it happens on a regular basis. Many people are not aware that the council does not have a policy in place yet and are scared that they have to agree to such suggestions or face losing any support from the council for good.
The council is now looking to put through a policy some time in March so that it can officially move people out of London in large numbers (see the Council’s Corporate Plan proposals – Agenda item “P5 Savings”. Such a policy will break up existing family and support networks. Many people rely on such networks for language support and informal childcare provision. However, this kind of informal support often extends to helping people with benefit claims, finding decent employment and basic legal advice. If these networks are destroyed, then families will be faced with going to official bodies like the council for much more of their needs and for any queries. The total cost to public bodies is certain to increase as a result, because this work is being done on a voluntary and unpaid basis at the moment.
It is also intending for temporary accommodation to be used to make it easier to carry out its estate demolition plans, by placing homeless families in estates earmarked for demolition or “decanted permanent stock”. We have already heard from people who have been moved into such properties. Any attempt by the tenant to get the council to fit basic security or carry out repairs was met with a big blank.
Our housing action group is against the use of any force being used to divide families and friends. There is enough space in Haringey for the households that want housing, the problems are that the housing is unaffordable, in a poor state of repair and is controlled by those who only want to turn a profit, rather than those who want a home. And yet, the council tries to convince us that the best option is to demolish existing council estates and replace them with fewer council homes for social rent.
Changes to Council Housing Allocations
Councils have also been granted the power to change the way they allocate council housing. Haringey Council is in the process of making changing to its own allocation policy. Many other London councils have changed their policies so that homeless people are no longer in high enough priority to stand a chance of getting much needed social housing. Some are increasing the amount of time someone has lived in the borough before they can even go on the waiting list.
These policies make it more difficult for everyone to access decent housing, and mask the real demand for such housing. However, while many people are now understanding the problem facing relatively well-off middle classes – of a lack of affordable housing to buy, and to rent in the private sector – there doesn’t appear to be as much being said about the problems that households in temporary accommodation will soon be facing. This is something that our group, along with our sister groups in London Coalition Against Poverty, would like to change.
Please come along to one of our meetings if you would like to help.