Lambeth residents march in support of mother made “intentionally homeless” by Council

Protesters against universal credit and “intentional homelessness” marched on the Lambeth Council meeting demanding answers on Wednesday.

The group, led by well-known Lambeth activist Alex Owolade, started at the embattled Cressingham Gardens estate and were met with plenty of support from passers-by as they marched.

The deputation presented at the meeting was primarily in support of the Clavia Come Home drive, which is trying to garner support for evicted social tenant Clavia Chambers and her two children, aged eight and two.

Ms Chambers was evicted from her property in August after falling into rent arrears and being marked as ‘intentionally homeless’ by the council.

“It’s unfair, unreasonable and just downright inhumane to use the phrase ‘intentionally homeless’ to evict people from their property,” she said.

“No-one, whether a parent or a single person, would intentionally make themselves homeless, even the most careless person who parties and doesn’t pay their bills would have the intention of being homeless.”

The family are now living with the family of Ms Chamber’s classmate, a generosity of which Ms Chambers says she is “forever grateful.”

Ms Chambers had taken on some part-time work, resulting in a cut to her benefits and eventual eviction from her home.

Lambeth Green Party’s Rebecca Thackray, who marched, said: “The irony is that if she just went on benefits and didn’t try to work she’d be fine.”

Speaking in the deputation presented during the council meeting, with supporters flanking her, a nervous Ms Chambers said: “Can I ask you, what is the advantage of people like me going to work? If I’d known I’d never have gone.”

The deputation called for the council to change this language, and provide more support to those most vulnerable. It is claimed the benefits provided for Ms Chambers and her children amounted to £1 per person, per meal, per day.

There was also a concern surrounding the mental health implications of being made homeless, the public gallery at the meeting shouting, “Shame!” as Ms Chambers spoke of the stress of being thrown out onto the streets.

Lambeth Labour Councillor Paul McGlone, responding to the deputation, said: “I know officers have provided support to you. Let me be crystal clear: council policy does not make people homeless, each case has specific circumstances.”

He was quick to point the finger at central government, and said: “We have comprehensive financial resilience support. It is the government’s welfare support system that is worsening your situation.”

However, others were keen to saddle the Lambeth Labour party with the lion’s share of the blame. Conservative Councillor Tim Briggs said: “The worst rogue landlords in Lambeth are the Labour councillors,” while Pete Elliot of the Green Party labelled them “more Tory than the Tories.”

Speaking outside the meeting as protesters jostled to make their voices heard, universal credit was high on the agenda.

“It’s disgusting. No one should have to live like that. I was so close to being homeless, I’ve just come back from the brink,” one supported said.

Lambeth Labour Leader Lib Peck said: “We are yet to feel the full impact [of universal credit] in Lambeth. The most devastating consequences lay ahead. Delayed payments, stress and financial problems – these are likely to increase as the full service is rolled out.”

The council have ten days to respond to the questions posed in the deputation.

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