In a week of depressing, worrying news on homelessness – of which more below – there were at least two bits of good news.
First, in Gureckis, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 3298 (Admin) the Government’s policy of deporting rough sleeping EU citizens was found to be unlawful, discriminatory and in breach of EU regulations on right to reside. The Govt’s argument that rough sleeping meant the person was not ‘integrating’ was rejected, both as being not true and as ‘integration’ was not a requirement for the exercise of free movement rights.
Second, in a highly unusual (but highly merited) step, the Housing Law Practitioners Association announced an Outstanding Achievement award for John Gallagher, of Shelter.
John will hate me saying this, because he is a man of great modesty, but this was extraordinarily well deserved. For many years, John has been a mainstay of housing law – author of books, trainer of solicitors and others, and a dedicated and very skilled practitioner. He has been completely selfless in his time and efforts for HLPA – above and beyond – and for many other people. John, saluté!
But that was the end of the good news.
The quarterly homelessness statistics for July to September 2017 were released. The headlines were a 6% rise from 14,390 to 15,290 on households where duty was accepted, a 2% rise over the last year. Over the year there was 6% rise in the numbers in temporary accommodation, with 1,110 households with children in B&B for more than 6 weeks – the legal limit – including 300 Grenfell households. In Q3 2010, this was 140 households. These are, of course, just the accepted households. Homelessness continues to rise, but the rise in figures in B&B over 6 weeks marks the utter crisis in rehousing.
And then the LGO released a special report on homelessness complaints (with 70% of complaints investigated upheld). This highlights those left in B&B and unsuitable accommodation, sometimes impacting on children’s health
We found the council had plenty of opportunity to secure suitable accommodation for Rebecca and her family before she became homeless, but failed to do so. The council also failed to consider medical evidence Rebecca submitted about her baby, which was from medical professionals involved in her baby’s care. Instead, it chose to rely on the opinion of someone who had never examined her baby, viewed his medical records or spoken to any professionals caring for him.
On balance, we found the living conditions were responsible for many, if not all of Rebecca’s baby’s admissions to hospital.
Homelessness is now a serious risk for working families with stable jobs who cannot find somewhere affordable to live after being evicted by private-sector landlords seeking higher rents
Nurses, taxi drivers, hospitality staff and council workers were amongst those who had complained to the LGO on homelessness issues.
It is all going wonderfully well….