Campaigners say ‘no justification’ for evicting family told to move 150 miles away, reports Victoria Munro
A homeless family were told to leave their temporary accommodation by Waltham Forest Council – after missing an appointment almost 150 miles away.
Monica and her partner, their ten-year-old boy and three-year-old twins were housed by the council on the other side of London, in Bromley, before being offered a more permanent home in Stoke-on-Trent.
They were told to attend a viewing in Stoke-on-Trent last week and, after missing it, were told on Friday 25th June that they must leave the Bromley property by the following Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday 29th June, after a social media campaign called on the council to reverse their decision, it reportedly agreed to give the family another three weeks in the home.
Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL), of which Monica is a member, organised the campaign and told the Local Democracy Reporting Service there was “no justification” for what the family had gone through.
A HASL spokesperson said: “We understand that local councils face enormous pressures after a decade of austerity, but there is no justification for this kind of treatment.
“The family are settled in their temporary accommodation in Bromley – there is no reason for them to move. It is a political decision by the council to try to force them out of London.
“London Labour councils should be doing everything they can to support their homeless residents and find them suitable housing. They should never be forcing people out of London using the threat of homelessness and destitution.
“Labour councils need to act in solidarity with their residents to challenge the central government policies that are fueling the housing crisis, like the cruel benefit cap, and to campaign for the high quality, safe, secure council housing that we all need and deserve.”
Monica, whose native language is Spanish, had never heard of Stoke-on-Trent before being told she would have to move there. Her family had been living in the Bromley accommodation since February last year, after being evicted by their private landlord in Walthamstow.
HASL said the short notice Monica was given to leave by the council meant that she was unable to find a lawyer who could support her on legal aid, and hope that the extra three weeks will give her time to find one.
They hope a lawyer will be able to argue against the council’s decision to rehouse the family in Stoke-on-Trent, and possibly win them extra time in their current home.
In November last year, Central London County Court ruled Waltham Forest Council’s attempt to rehome a disabled man in Wolverhampton, 130 miles away, was “unlawful”.
The court found the council had failed to properly consider the man’s “extensive support needs”, which his family and friends would be unable to provide from so far away.
Responding to Monica’s case, a council spokesperson said it “works hard to try and keep families and support networks together” where possible.
They said: “However, demand for local housing far outstrips supply and we regret that it may not always be possible to place people in the borough. This is not just an issue for Waltham Forest, but for all local authorities in London.
“While we are unable to discuss the details of individual cases, we always try to work constructively with anyone who approaches us for housing help to find a suitable solution in both the short and long term.”