'Mass eviction' of 14 statutory homeless men from homeless hostel in Willesden
PUBLISHED: 16:39 02 October 2018
Fourteen vulnerable men are facing a "mass eviction" from a homeless hostel in Willesden - to allow other homeless people to move in.
On Wednesday the men must hand in the keys to their flats at St Mungo’s in Pound Lane.
But they say they do not know where they are going and some are being told to apply for night shelters.
One tenant, too afraid to be named, said: “We are in a hostel and we have got this mass eviction. It’s strange.”
Behind the eviction is a confusing jumble of contracts, charities and authorities.
St Mungo’s, a rough sleepers charity, owns the building.
But the service to run the 14 flats and two hostels next door as homeless accommodation is commissioned by Brent Council. Until September last year, it was being delivered by charitable housing association Look Ahead.
When Brent renewed the contract that month, it took the 14 flats out of the agreement, leaving Look Ahead to manage only the two hostel blocks. It hasn’t said why.
In the meantime, tenants of the flats were to be “supported” by another charity, Thames Reach, which told the council the homeless men did not want to engage with services so it stopped offering any. The tenants dispute this.
Housing association Look Ahead told us it served the men with eviction notices as, no longer required by Brent Council to run the flats, it needed to hand the leases back to St Mungo’s. It told the tenants, however, it had been instructed to empty the flats by St Mungo’s, not the council.
To confuse matters further, in emails from St Mungo’s to the tenants seen by the Times, the charity says it actually asked Look Ahead to give “the properties back as they became vacant rather than requiring vacant possession of all 14 units”. A meeting was allegedly planned to discuss this on September 18, but Look Ahead had already served the eviction notices by then, St Mungo’s told tenants.
A spokesperson from Look Ahead said the charity was doing “all we can to avoid anyone becoming homeless” and meeting Brent Council this week to discuss “available move-on options”.
Brent Council said: “Look Ahead is supporting the current tenants to move on from the 14 units into alternative accommodation and we are meeting with them this week to discuss progress.”