Friday 4 May 2012

H&F Conservatives Up Their Attacks On Homeless People And Try To Hoodwink Residents As They Seek To End Social Rented Housing

H&F Conservatives to ship homeless households
hundreds of miles away
New rules, being considered by H&F Council’s Conservative Administration, make it likely that the Borough will no longer provide any local shelter to anyone deemed homeless and they will not be allowed onto the housing waiting list either – no matter what their circumstances. The Guardian has written this comprehensive report about the Tories' plans.

People become homeless for many reasons. Different types of crisis such as illness, domestic violence, debt and mental breakdown can suddenly place a person or household in need of shelter. However, Hammersmith and Fulham Conservatives have developed an infamous record on homelessness and affordable housing. There are few local residents who will accept their explanations why they say these measures are necessary. Here’s a summary of what they've done to homeless people during the last six years:
  • In April 2007 H&F Conservatives slashed funding to local homeless charities
  • In the autumn of 2007 H&F Conservatives told Crisis, the homeless charity, and the BBC that they were forbidden to run a Christmas homeless shelter - describing homeless people as a “law and order issue.” They even refused to meet with directors of the Crisis to discuss their concerns.
  • Weeks later, during the 2007/08 Christmas holidays, H&F Conservatives announced they were shutting down and selling off twelve homeless hostels
  • By April 2009 reports were coming in that H&F Council was turning away homeless people and refusing to provide the statutory support they were legally obliged to offer
  • In January 2010 H&F Council was found guilty of maladministration having unlawfully turned away a pregnant domestic violence victim who was later found, in a state of terror, sleeping in a local park
  • By February 2010 charities were reporting that H&F Council had turned away more people (many victims of horrific cases) it was legally obliged to help
  • By July 2010 H&F Conservatives sought revenge on the charity that identified the maladministration case by removing all funding. In September the Administration instructed the Conservative Mayor to block any debate on their attempts to close the charity – despite a large crowd of homeless people turning up to hear their arguments. The Charity was shut down in November 2010
  • Meanwhile, from June 2010 onwards, H&F Conservatives refused to have any genuine review of the likely wave of homelessness following their governments cuts to housing benefits and local housing allowance- as you can read herehere, and here. Cllr. Lucy Ivimy, the then cabinet member for housing, even attacked Shelter the charity, and inferred it was disreputable
  • Last week it was announced that H&F Conservatives were planning to ship many homeless families, in receipt of housing benefits, hundreds of miles away to cities and towns such as Nottingham, Reading and Margate.
As a back drop to all this it’s worth noting that H&F Conservatives are ending the council’s affordable social rented housing supply - therefore making their tinkering with how they allocate it look a very bad joke as there are very few homes to actually allocate. To accomplish this they are demolishing 3,500 council homes, have fixed planning processes to block any new affordable rented homes, and are selling off council homes to property speculators – as featured on the BBC’s Homes Under The Hammer.

There is little doubt that that there is a housing crisis and that it is particularly bad in London. As well as all of the above, it is now statistically the case that the average Briton currently in their twenties won't get a foot on the property ladder until they are in their fifties. There needs to be a fresh approach to housing policy. One that critically increases the supply of affordable homes to buy and rent and one that gives all our citizens a chance of a decent secure home.

No comments: