Waltham Forest Unite Community helps family of five resist eviction in Leytonstone.
Unite Community activists successfully resisted the eviction of Unite Community member, Mr. A and his family of 5*, (including a 16 day old baby), by a private landlord for ‘commercial reasons’ on Friday 17 October, with the fantastic support of Focus E15 Mothers and Eviction Resistance Network.
After seeing the front door of the Leytonstone property (in Waltham Forest) barricaded by protesters with arms locked together, the bailiff called the police and nearly a dozen showed up. In the meantime Mr. A’s lovely neighbours stood outside their homes expressing sympathy for the family and even builders working nearby came over to express concern. The police finally agreed not to take action because the family wanted to leave but had nowhere to go until the council find a suitable property, and since previous requests for help had gone badly wrong, the parents were desperate to avoid destitution and protect the children.
With the temporary security of this reprieve activists left Mr. A’s wife and baby in the flat, and moved to the waiting room of Ascham Homes (the council’s housing agency) with banners and leaflets to support their comrade as he tried to negotiate with senior officials there.
Against a background of activists chanting, “SOCIAL HOUSING NOT SOCIAL CLEANSING!” Mr. A was finally offered temporary accommodation in Tottenham. As he was talking 40 or so other homeless families looked on, forlornly surrounded by luggage and toys they were forced to bring after being evicted that very day – the very fate our comrade was trying to avoid. Some of us began to collect case studies and to explain the way Unite Community works.
Mr A was told he could collect the keys at 5.30pm from the estate agents and housing benefit was arranged. However when he arrived there he was shocked to discover that the property in Tottenham – a temporary, nightly-paid, self-contained unit with three bedrooms not too far from the oldest children’s schools – was filthy and crawling with insects in every room. It was completely infested from top to bottom and thus unfit for anyone to live there, never mind a new born baby. Naturally Mr. A and his family decided against moving and as they had bravely resisted eviction they at least had somewhere dry and clean to stay – even though the bailiffs could soon return without a change of heart from the owner.
As the family wait anxiously for the council to respond to their plight, please spare a moment to send them a message of support via Eleanor Firman, Unite Community Waltham Forest.
*The family includes three children under ten (including the baby) and to protect them we are withholding their identity.