Council must end ‘gatekeeping tactics’ say housing campaigners

A behind-the-banner look at a previous housing demonstration at Hackney Town Hall

A behind-the-banner look at a previous housing demonstration at Hackney Town Hall

An end to “gatekeeping tactics” by Hackney Council is one of the demands of local housing campaigners, which residents in temporary accommodation claim are used by Hackney Council to prevent them accessing its housing service.

Earlier this year, Hackney Housing Group, part of the London Coalition Against Poverty, met with Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, and Nargis Kahn, Cabinet Member for Community Services, to demand they take action on housing in Hackney.

They met their elected representatives to address what they see as obstructive practices to access to housing at Hackney Homeless Person’s Unit (HPU).

Ayten Eren, who lives in temporary accommodation, has complained about her treatment by the council’s housing office, saying that people who do not speak English are treated as “second class citizens”. She told Diane Abbott that officers “talk to us like we are animals, not people.”

However, the Council has refuted Hackney Housing Group’s claims that a practice of “gatekeeping” is making it difficult for people in temporary accommodation to access housing services:

A spokesperson said, “Housing Needs service applies criteria set out in legislation to assess if households are eligible, homeless and/or in priority need. During interviews, the nature of local housing situation is outlined, as well as the range of housing options available.

“Arrangements in place to carry out homelessness assessments on an emergency basis where necessary, are all in accordance with legislation and Homelessness Code of Guidance. This does not constitute a practice of denying anyone a homelessness interview.

“The Housing Needs service offers advice and options service to many customers (sic) who do not meet all of the statutory criteria for Housing assistance. “

“We work closely with residents to help achieve positive resolutions to their housing problems. We have had 678 homelessness prevention outcomes this year, which indicates the success of the prevention, advice and options approach.

“We have worked hard to reduce numbers of residents in temporary accommodation and continue to work to improve the standards of all housing.”

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