Homeless mothers facing exile to demand Boris prevents 'social cleansing'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Local Government
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A group of homeless mothers that are facing being forced out of London are to take their protest directly to mayor Boris Johnson.
The women and their children are being evicted from a homeless hostel in Stratford and have been offered housing in places as far away as Birmingham, Manchester and Hastings by Newham Council.
They have been told that if they don’t accept the properties the offer of support will be withdrawn.
The mums, who are on the council’s homeless list, are currently housed in Focus E15 foyer, which is run by East Thames Housing Association. In September 2013, the tenants started a campaign when cuts shut the mother and baby unit & eviction notices were served.
This Friday they will escalate their campaign by delivering a petition of almost 2,000 signatures to Boris Johnson in person.
The mums are demanding secure, affordable housing in their communities and have accused the government of implementing policies that amount to social cleansing.
Johnson has said he will “not accept any kind of Kosovo-style social cleansing of London. On my watch, you are not going to see thousands of families evicted from the place where they have been living and have put down roots.”
This week the mayor’s draft London Housing Strategy was slammed by the Greater London Assembly as "woefully lacking" on action to tackle homelessness, and didn't do enough to support people on low incomes.
Jasmin Stone, one of the young mothers in the campaign, said: “Mothers of Focus E15 have been battling East Thames and Newham Council for our right to stay in London. We are still strong and will not give up. Newham council and East Thames have continuously blamed each other for what is happening and failed to take responsibility. We have met with Robin Wales who was very negative toward the campaign and stated that we need to be realistic and that there are no properties in the area.
"We are being forced to accept expensive, sometimes poor quality, insecure one year private rents. Because of our campaigning so far, some mums have been offered private rented accommodation in London. But this isn’t good enough. This appears to be a victory, however it is also a very effective way of scattering us, and only stalling our eventual eviction from London.
"The private rented accommodation offered is extremely short term and rents often above the benefit cap, meaning many of us can expect eviction after a year."