Tag Archives: housing

Newham Council offers single mother slum housing or the street

Marsha, a brave single mother who has been living in temporary accommodation in Brimstone House for over a year with her 6 year old daughter, was yesterday contacted by Housing Options and told that she would be offered housing in Woolwich.  She was informed in a threatening manner that this would be the last time she would be offered housing, and that she had to view and accept the property today.

Marsha managed to get some pictures when viewing the property.  These speak for themselves.

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The Agent who was showing the property agreed he would never house his family in this flat.

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This is private accommodation offered by Newham Council.  What a disgrace from a Council that prides itself on tackling slum private landlords.

 

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Marsha has not only suffered Council threats in relation to her housing, but has been verbally threatened by social services in relation to her child being rehoused without her.

Journalist Kate Belgrave has documented Marsha’s full story in more detail. Please read about this here:

Do Councils actually try to drive homeless mothers to breakdown so they can remove their kids?

https://www.katebelgrave.com/2019/02/do-councils-actually-try-to-drive-homeless-mothers-to-breakdown-so-they-can-remove-their-kids/

Focus E15 stands as one with Marsha and her daughter.  We demand that Newham Council retracts this housing offer and rehouses Marsha in suitable, clean, long term, council accommodation in Newham .

We demand an end to vulnerable families being threatened and bullied into accepting accommodation that no Councillor would spend the night in.

We demand people are housed with dignity in one of the richest Countries in the world!

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Rehouse the residents from Focus E15 hostel! Stop destroying the lives of young people.

On Monday 15th June demonstrate outside Focus E15 hostel, Brimstone House, Victoria Street, Stratford, E15 4NX at 1.45pm and tell Newham Council and East Thames Housing Association to rehouse all the young people in the hostel who are facing an insecure future. Read our letter below which has information about what has been happening to the residents. We are sending a copy of this letter to:

Yvonne Arrowsmith, chief executive of East Thames – yvonne.arrowsmith@east-thames.co.uk
Terry Paul, councillor Stratford – terence_paul@hotmail.com
Lyn Brown, MP for West Ham – brownl@parliament.uk; lyn@lynbrown.org.uk
Florence Bangboye housing officer -Florence.bamgboye@newham.gov.uk
Robin Wales – Mayor of Newham -mayor@newham.gov.uk

COPY OF THE LETTER FOLLOWS.
We are writing on behalf of Focus E15 campaign in support of the single residents in the Focus E15 hostel in Victoria Street, E15, who are in a very unsettling and frightening period with respect to the future of their housing situation.

The 99 young people left in Focus E15 foyer are being told that they have to move out in the next few months. They have visited Lyn Brown, MP, Terry Paul, councillor, have met with people from the council and from East Thames and of course are in contact with their support workers. They are being pushed from pillar to post, getting mixed messages and no answers. Many of the residents struggle with depression and anxiety, which is made worse by the lack of proper support in what is meant to be supported housing for vulnerable young people.

Currently every time a young person does move out of Focus E15 foyer they are not replaced. Instead families or older residents, who are told to pay more rent for the same size room, to a different landlord are being moved in. Is East Thames trying to wash their hands of all the vulnerable young people at the hostel?

At a recent Move On meeting, the young residents were told to look for properties in the privately-rented sector, but the only landlords they found who will accept DSS also want a guarantor who earns over £35,000. None of the young residents have contact with such a person. The young people in Focus E15 foyer do not have family that they can go back to.

They have been told that without full housing benefit they can only expect to have a room in a shared house with people they don’t know. The background experiences of most of the young people in Focus E15, housed there due to previous difficulties and need for support, means that they feel very anxious about the concept of living with strangers. With the upper limit being £73 a week, it is almost impossible to find somewhere in Newham and they face the frightening alternative of having to move miles away from all support and familiarity.

We are asking East Thames and Newham council to work together to find an urgent acceptable solution to the housing plight of these young vulnerable people from Focus E15 foyer. They want to move their lives forward in a positive way, they want to live independently.They want to be in training or employment.

We know that East Thames prides itself on providing social housing and that Newham council has empty properties that should be opened up and used for housing.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Focus E15 campaign organising committee.

CALLOUT. Newham council worker’s teen speaks out against evictions.

Join the Focus E15 campaign this Friday to  support  Nmah Kamara, her husband and children who have been evicted from their home and face being moved out of Newham.

Friday 22 May 9.30am
Outside Bridge House
320 High Street, Stratford, London E15 1EP

One of the children writes clearly and movingly how this will effect the whole family:

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“After a long complicated housing story we have an Eviction Notice for the 22 May 2015 to leave our present and only accommodation at 8am but with nowhere to go.
If the Council relocate me from Newham at this stage of my life I will definitely fail to complete my education which is my future due to the physical, emotional and psychological transition I have to undergo, which is also true for my sister.
I have lived in Newham since my parents moved to Britain. My mum works for Newham Council.
My sister, brother and I have completed primary and secondary schools in Newham, we are now in further education (currently busy with projects and exams) and through UCAS we have already enrolled at Universities in London starting from 2015/16 with the hope that I will still live in Newham.
We have our friends and we are well associated with our borough making it very difficult to move away without affecting our continuity of education and network support”.

Please support this family on Friday. Social Housing! Not Social Cleansing!

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

On 13 April, Jasmin Stone of Focus E15 campaign 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.

The lead up to the police and council action was Focus E15 campaign 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 is compelled 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 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.

Supporters of the Focus E15 Campaign celebrate after the release of Jasmin Stone
Supporters of the Focus E15 Campaign celebrate after the release of Jasmin Stone

Come and join us.

Cut hair! Not homes!

Saturday 25 April 3-6pm

CUT HAIR NOT HOMES!

All hairdressers welcome to take part

Come and have a free hair cut on the Carpenters Estate.

Homes are lying empty while people are sent out of London by the Labour council who claim there is nowhere for people to live in Newham.

Join us on the Carpenters Estate

Doran Walk E15 2JT…

Cut Hair Not Homes!

Repopulate the Carpenters Estate!

Newham Council tries to intimidate the Focus E15 Campaign.

The Focus E15 campaign is appalled by the recent bullying tactics of Newham Labour council and the police who worked hand in hand to intimidate peaceful housing protesters involved in the ‘Jane Come Home’ political occupation. We proudly stand by Jane Wood who bravely reoccupied her home on Saturday 11 April after being tossed aside by Newham council. The flat was raided by police on Monday 13 April. It is clear that by arresting Jasmin Stone, one of the most prominent members of our campaign, the authorities in Newham are trying to intimidate us.
What happened?
Jane Wood, a Newham resident, was evicted from her flat by the council on the 24 of March alongside her 14 year old daughter. The eviction was a terrible shock for Jane, she had been living in the flat for 21 years. Now she was homeless. Jane decided that the only way that Newham council would listen to her was if she took direct action. On Saturday 11 April, with chants of ‘Jane Come Home’, we marched to a house-warming party in Jane’s old flat. The brief occupation of the flat was a joyfully defiant gesture attracting press attention. Jane was deeply touched by the support from the community around her who were quick to show their solidarity by bringing all types of food, furniture and cooking equipment into the occupied flat.

Jane Come Home. Stop the evictions!
Jane Come Home. Stop the evictions!

On the same day the local Labour MP, Lyn Brown, responding to growing pressure, tweeted that Jane should phone her. Jane did, twice, but only got an answermachine. By Monday 13 April the authorities in Newham were furious and running scared of the powerful message of direct action embodied by Jane and the other campaigners. The council then acted in the most underhand way possible: they asked Jane to attend a housing appointment, whilst at the same time unleashing police and council officials in order to break into the flat. A terrifying ordeal for the people left inside the flat.
After over ten minutes of violence, smashing through the front door, with children screaming, the police began intimidating the women – aggressive and threatening to take the children into care. It was at this point that Jasmin Stone from Focus E15 was arrested inside the flat, on suspicion of squatting, a ridiculous charge on many fronts especially when considering the council knows exactly where Jasmin lives. We have been advised that the police and council have acted unlawfully: they did not acquire a possession order from a court to enter the flat. Jane may also have had some rights as a former tenant but Newham Labour council just wanted to shut down the protest by any means possible. Fast.
Jasmin was taken in an unmarked police car to Waltham Forest Custody Centre outside which a growing crowd gathered. A banner was unfurled with the clear message ‘Free Jasmin Stone – Let Jane Come Home’. Whilst the solicitor negotiated inside, Focus E15 campaign supporters chanted, danced and sang outside.

Supporters of the Focus E15 Campaign celebrate after the release of Jasmin Stone
Supporters of the Focus E15 Campaign celebrate after the release of Jasmin Stone

Jasmin was greeted with a huge cheer when she stepped free from the custody centre, bailed pending further enquiries to a date in mid May and banned from attending Jane’s former flat, a clear sign of the political nature of this arrest.

What about Jane? Jane’s first offer from the council was an uninhabitable temporary flat in a neighbouring borough that she rejected as unfit for her and her teenage daughter to live in. By the time of the next discussion with the council housing department, the staff had obviously seen the news and read the papers and started to make offers of a longer term council tenancy, this is yet to be confirmed.

The campaign is overwhelmed by all the support that has come flooding in since Jane’s second eviction and Jasmin’s release. Thank you to all those who have sent messages of solidarity. We will not be shaken in our belief that housing is a human right. Everyone deserves a decent home to live in.
No more evictions!
No to political intimidation!
Stop social cleansing!

Evicted by Newham Labour council after 20 years, we say Jane Come Home

Jane Come Home
Friends, family and campaigners support Jane outside her newly occupied flat

Jane is occupying her former council home as a political protest after she was evicted by Newham Labour council in March 2015. On Saturday 11th April, with full support from the Focus E15 campaign and many others, the doors of her former council flat were flung open and Jane threw a surprise house warming party. She was warmly welcomed back by her neighbours, family and friends. Jane was quick to hang up a newly made banner which states ‘Jane Come Home’ to the delight of her many well wishers and supporters who partied alongside her.

Jane has a daughter who is 14 years old. They were both evicted from their home on the 24 March 2015 after being a tenant of Newham council for 20 years. Another victim of the government’s harsh benefit sanctions, she fell into rent arrears when her Employment Support Allowance was suddenly stopped and her housing benefit cut. She was evicted because she owes the council about 5 months rent of £2,569 (this figure includes some court costs). She missed the court date due to a combination of depression, illiteracy and fear.

Help was in hand when her family offered to pay the full amount of rent owing but the council point blank refused the offer and said it was too late. On the day of the eviction Jane passed out with the stress and became another part of the tragic statistics for the amount of homeless families in Newham: almost 5,000 children are living in temporary accommodation. In the last two years alone, Newham has seen a 42 per cent increase in the amount of homeless familes, according to the  figures analysed by Labour MP Dame Tessa Jowell and released from the Department for Communities and Local Government. This injustice has to stop.People need homes. The council should start to address these shocking statistics by giving Jane and her daughter their home back.

After all, the amount or rent that is due is not much more than the monthly rent of one of the new luxury apartments that are mushrooming all over Stratford.We are asking the council to accept Jane’s family’s offer to pay the rent, clear the debt and allow Jane and her 14 year old daughter back into their home so that normal family life can resume. Jane’s daughter needs to attend her local school where she is due to sit her GCSEs.

After 50 years since Ken Loach made the film Cathy Come Home, we  are raising the issues of evictions and social cleansing in our community with the slogan Jane Come Home. Victory to Jane and all those who face the brutality of being ripped from their homes by council enforced bailiffs.

What you can do to help.

Contact Jane’s Labour MP Lyn Brown to ask her to put pressure on the council  for Jane to Come Home.

Telephone Lyn Brown: 0208 470 3463 Email: lyn@lynbrown.org.uk

Post: Lyn Brown, 306 High Street, Stratford, London, E15 1AJ

Tweet: @lynbrownmp

Share this story on  Facebook and twitter. Tweet Newham Labour Council @newhamlondon

Tweet the local councillor Terry Paul @terrympaul

Come to the next street stall on Saturday April 18th, on the Broadway outside Wilkos from 12pm-2pm in Stratford and then our open campaign meeting afterwards at the Carpenters Arms pub.

Article in the Huffington post hits the spot

“Our campaign is one led by women most affected by the ongoing austerity which is tearing families from their homes and making countless people street-homeless. We are directly challenging our Labour council and the wider government. We’re angry, organised and are demanding change!” Read the rest of the article  about the Focus E15 campaign written by Saskia O Hara in the Huffington Post

Russia Today gets in on the action

They wrote:

Protesting against the lack of affordable social housing in an East London borough, a group of 29 homeless single mothers and their children have occupied a block of flats to demand action on the city’s housing crisis.

The group, calling itself “Focus E15,” complained that an estate in Stratford was almost empty, having been cleared by the local council, while increasing numbers of local people could not afford to buy or rent a home.

The women said people were facing homelessness and displacement due to the lack of affordable and social housing in London. They called for “social housing, not social cleansing”.

For the full report click here

The Newham Recorder reports on our occupation

The local reporter, Mike Brook, wrote:

Members of the Focus E15 campaign used the occupation on Stratford’s Carpenter’s Estate next to the Olympic Park to try and shame Town Hall bosses over leaving “perfectly habitable” homes empty for years.

They accused Newham Council of shipping families from the estate out of London, leaving homes vacant in site of the Olympic Stadium.

“The estate has 2,000 empty council homes due to the decision to sell off the land to a private developer,” said Focus E15’s Jasmine Stone.

For the full article click here