A RIGHT METROPOLITAN MESS

Esther Santos and her family were evicted from Aspinall House on March10th by bailiffs employed by Clapham Park Homes, a section of the Metropolitan Housing Association.There was no cause for the eviction other than at some time in the future Aspinall House and the blocks next door will be demolished. Having been moved into a B&B by Lambeth Council, Esther, who is 5 months pregnant, was then moved into more temporary accommodation with her husband and daughter in Hackney. This means having to travel all the way from there to Lambeth for her work as a nurse at King’s College hospital and to take her 8 year old daughter to and from school.

The offices serving Clapham Park estate were besieged by 20 protesters on 31st March who were determined to see justice done for Esther and her family. After an initial refusal to see anyone the managers then agreed to meet with Esther and three other people. A letter was handed in demanding that Esther be reinstated in her old home or found another place in Lambeth. With 4,000 units in Lambeth it is astonishing that Metropolitan Housing could not find a place for Esther. And the flat that Esther was evicted from lies empty and unused – with demolition unlikely to commence within the next year at least.

After heated discussions and a lively protest outside the premises it became clear that Metropolitan Housing Association want to wash their hands of the whole matter and they want to push responsibility onto Lambeth Council despite the fact that Esther has been living in Clapham park for 3 years and they are the ones responsible for evicting the Santos family and making them homeless.

When it was suggested to the Clapham Park Manager, Boe Williams-Obasi, that other families now facing eviction from the same block might not leave so willingly when they see what has happened to Esther, she callously replied that the baillifs “will just carry them out then”. She added that Metropolitan has no more responsibility for shorthold tenants than ‘a buy-to-let landlord’ for any private tenant. Is this really how managers of housing associations – so-called ‘social’ landlords – should behave?

Clapham Park homes finally agreed to look at whether they have any other suitable properties Esther could move into and we agreed that if Esther does not get a favourable response by Friday, then we will return on Monday 7th April and demand to speak to more senior managers and councillors who must take responsibility for this destructive eviction policy and it’s victims.

A fellow tenant of Esther’s, who is facing eviction with his family too, also raised his case on Monday. He got an easier ride from Metropolitan and they undertook to get back to him in an hour. Two days later, they still have not done so and their case is being taken up by one of the Labour councillors.

Watch this space for further updates

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