Join the Focus E15 mothers this Friday in their fight for housing for all!
The young mums of the Focus E15 campaign are inviting you and your children to the Focus Fun Bus Big Day Out this Friday (21 February at 10am).
The group will meet on the corner of West Ham Lane and Victoria street, Stratford E15 at 10am. The bus will leave very soon after, so make sure you're there on time. The group will be doing arts and crafts, singing, having children's fun activities and celebrating housing campaign victories so far. The aim of the event is to let people know about the need for secure social housing in the capital and the struggle against social cleansing and families being torn apart when boroughs send people out of London.
The Focus E15 story:
This group of young women have been battling Newham council for accommodation for themselves and their small children for about six months. They are all classed as homeless and all battling to stay in London.
At the moment, the young women live in Newham’s Focus E15 foyer – a hostel which has about 16 flats for young parents and about 210 flats across the complex. It’s supposed to be temporary accommodation, but some of the women have been living there for years. Concerns have been raised about the health standards at the hostel - the women say there are rats, mice and problems with mould and ventilation. Some of the children in the hostel are babies.
The women's options for permanent housing are not good. They're dealing with so many of the problems that face people who are either on low incomes, or benefits and who are trying to find secure housing.
Their options include: trying to find social housing in a borough which has 24,000 people on its waiting list and recently changed its allocations policy to prioritise ex-servicepeople and people in work over people not in work.
Or they they can hope to be housed in private accommodation - in an era where private landlords like Fergus and Judith Wilson are asking their housing benefit tenants to leave. Some of the women were recently moved into private rented accommodation on short-term lets for a year. Others are still waiting to find out where their futures will be.
An option is that Newham will house the women many miles out of the borough - miles away away from the family members who could provide childcare while the women worked. Places like Hastings, or Birmingham, are often suggested as options. But Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings council says that Hastings is not keen on taking people who are benefits. He can't stop London boroughs housing people in Hastings' private rental sector, but he says that:
“We’re a deprived community in the south east, who are trying to reduce the amount of benefit dependency in our own borough. While we welcome anyone who wants to come to Hastings to move here, we are not happy that we would be taking further people who were benefit dependent. That is putting extra pressure on the services that we’ve got in the town.” He also says that the council had specific housing projects which exclude people who are not in work.
Last month, the women occupied Newham council housing offices and the East Thames housing assocation to draw attention to people's problems finding decent, affordable and secure housing.
These two videos are from the occupation.
First video - the women occupied Newham council housing offices and explained the awful problems that people have finding housing today. Says young mother Tresha Elliott in the video:
“Stop making people homeless. Stop making kids miss school. It’s not fair. You get to go home to your nice homes, while people here are struggling. People are here crying (they were – a woman in the office was crying, because she was homeless and trying to sort that out). They’re stressed, depressed. It’s not right. You’ve got a place here where you’re meant to help people. You’re meant to help people. You’re not helping people.”
Second video: The women occupied the East Thames Housing Association (and a small showroom flat the HA has in its foyer):
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