Homeless? Pregnant? Haringey won’t help until the bailiffs arrive


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.

Ms L has been to the council to ask if she could be housed a week earlier, to give her time to move into her new place, and get her things settled before her baby is born. The council has so far refused, telling her that she would not be housed until her eviction notice was signed by a bailiff.  At a recent appointment, when she managed to get an appointment with a manager, she was asked a series of questions which implied that the council would only consider housing her before her eviction date if she expected to have medical complications at the birth. As though a “normal” birth was like having a flu jab.

In a recent Freedom of Information request, Haringey Council stated that there is no requirement to have the eviction notice signed before temporary accommodation is given. They also claimed that it was not routine practice at the housing office to say this to people coming in. This is not the experience of any number of people we have spoken to, and certainly not the experience of Ms L.

We understand that the council has financial constraints and would like to keep its temporary accommodation bill as low as possible. In the longer term, this can only happen with a dedicated commitment to finding ways of providing secure, genuinely affordable housing in the borough. However, for now, in a situation like this, with a single mother about to give birth, it would seem that the only human response would be for the council back down from its “we won’t move a muscle until you’re on the streets” approach.  Let’s hope for Ms L’s sake they do.

June 22, 2015  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS