A safe home for Kenza and her family

Posted by Ariel on 4 Jul 2016

In recent years, one of EFA’s most requested class topics has been housing. Many of us are suffering from precarious housing situations and experiencing the London housing crisis first hand. EFA has responded by collaborating with groups like Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, where students attend regular meetings to discuss housing problems and who have run housing rights sessions in our classes.

We have listened to an array of stories including severe overcrowding, disrepair and a landlord even demanding that an EFA student pay for their own bailiffs.

EFA student Kenza in Southwark told us about her shocking housing situation. Earlier this month, Kenza, her husband and her two sons (two years and four years) were made homeless. After long and difficult interviews, they were provided temporary accommodation in a hostel.

On arriving at the hostel, they found the property had not been cleaned since the previous tenant had moved out, the mattress was brown with dirt. Kenza and her husband checked the room to make sure it was safe for their children and were shocked to find drawers full of syringes, they also found blood on the wall.

Kenza Hostel 1

Syringes found in the hostel

This is unsuitable and dangerous accommodation for anybody, let alone a family with two children under five. Kenza asked the agent to clean the property, and when they refused, she asked the council to clean it. The council said if the agent didn’t do it, there was nothing that they could do.

In the end, Kenza had to clean the property, potentially endangering herself by clearing out hypodermic needles. It took her days of hard work.

Kenza, with the support of  English for Action, is calling on Southwark Council to accommodate her and her family in safe and suitable housing.

This situation sadly is not an isolated case, not only do we want Kenza to be rehoused, but we also want the London Borough of Southwark to address some wider questions:

  • Why is the London Borough of Southwark providing and paying for sub-standard accommodation?
  • What commitments can Southwark council make us in order that no other homeless people have to go through the same ordeal as Kenza and her family?
Kenza hostel

Blood on the walls

Join us in calling on Southwark Council to rehouse Kenza and her family in safe and suitable accommodation:

Tweet @lb_southwark , @steviecryan (Southwark Cabinet Member for Housing) and @peterjohn6 (Leader of Southwark Council)

“Please act now to safely accommodate Kenza and her family #SafeHomeforKenza #CleanUpYourAct”@lb_southwark  @steviecryan @peterjohn6 

“Kenza and her family are in a hostel that is completely inappropriate  @peterjohn6 @steviecryan #SafeHomeforKenza #CleanUpYourAct”

“Syringes and filthy conditions in temporary accommodation must end! @peterjohn6 @lb_southwark  #SafeHomeforKenza #CleanUpYourAct”

“We’re asking @lb_southwark to #CleanUpYourAct after hearing about the state of an EFA student’s temp. accommodation #SafeHomeforKenza @steviecryan

Write a letter to Cllr Peter John, like Kenza’s classmatesKenza Letters

KenzaLetter Peter John

Do you have a temporary accommodation story? Share it on Twitter using #TempAccommodation #CleanUpYourAct hashtag.

If you are experiencing housing difficulties, join your local housing network and attend meetings like the ones Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth organise.HASL