Homeless men fear they 'will die' as Wembley hotel stay ends
- Credit: Nathalie Raffray
A group of homeless men fear they "will die" following eviction from the Wembley hotel they have stayed in during the coronavirus lockdown.
Some 37 men were moved into Euro Wembley Hotel, in Elm Road, in January as part of a government-led initiative to house rough sleepers during the winter months.
They had all been found sleeping in Brent parks, cemeteries, public toilets, and on the street.
Brent Council housed them under the severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP).
However, last week council officers hand-delivered letters to all the men they rescued in January saying they must be out on March 31 and to "make your own arrangements there-after".
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Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North, appealed to the council to delay evictions.
"I have asked my office to make urgent enquiries with the council pointing out that the government has extended the eviction ban from March 31 to May 31," he said.
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"I believe the extension should apply here and these cases should be properly and fully assessed before any eviction proceedings."
None of these former workers have a job, or money, most have medical issues, none have a clue what they are going to do and all of them are terrified.
Former builder, Ashok Rama, 39, has been homeless for 10 years. A femur in his leg was fractured when someone stamped on him while he slept in a park. He has had three operations and has a note from a doctor saying he is "unfit to work".
"Please help me or I die," he said. "Please help. I want to stay in this hotel as it is safe for me."
Brent Council insist "housing offers" have been made to those who qualify and only five people currently housed at The Euro Hotel are not eligible because of their "immigration status".
Dharmendra Chunilal, 47, who has five children, was ordered by a court not to go to his family home for five years following a relationship breakdown and was sleeping in a park for two months before Brent offered him sanctuary at the hotel.
He said: "I go to the council again and again and there's no help. Where will I go?"
Davendra Somasundram said they were all "very very shocked" to receive the letter. Homeless since 2017, he's been sleeping in public toilets.
Three years ago Dan Valentinutal returned from a holiday to be told by his landlord he was being evicted. While rough sleeping his bag was stolen and with it all of his identity papers.
One man, who did not wish to be named, said the council offered him a "studio flat" but when viewed it was a small bedsit, with small bathroom, shared kitchen and rent of £1,000 . "I am claustrophobic, I have mental health issues and have attempted suicide many times," he said.
Marcus Francis shook his head when asked what he was going to do. "I try not to think about these things," said the 31-year-old who has been rough sleeping in Wembley after a family breakdown. "I see the difference in them staying here, a happiness, they don't see it but I do, they are a bit more themselves."
The Euro Wembley Hotel has been used as a hostel for homeless families prior to the pandemic.
A Brent Council spokesperson said: "The hotel was used as replacement accommodation for the shelters that the council has helped to run during previous winters, but couldn’t use this year due to the pandemic.
"Government funding enabled us to accommodate around 40 single homeless people in The Euro Hotel rooms from 1 January to 31 March this year.
"Housing offers have been made to those who qualify under the government criteria. There are five people housed at The Euro Hotel who are not are not eligible for housing assistance because of their immigration status.
"Everyone else who is eligible has been offered suitable accommodation to meet their housing needs.
"If someone has refused the private rented sector accommodation offered to them, we are still able to help them financially secure their accommodation once they have found it for themselves."