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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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News in brief 137: Apr-May 2022

April 01 2022

Our monthly round-up of what‘s been happening...

Pen pals

Amnesty International has accused Camden Council of a breach of human rights in its treatment of people sleeping rough. The human rights charity joined with Liberty, another human rights organisation, to write a letter condemning numerous “reported incidents of harassment towards rough sleepers,” and voice their shared concern of an “ever-growing hostile environment across Camden for those sleeping rough.” The reported incidents of harassment, which include council officers taking the luggage of people sleeping rough and photographing them without consent, would break Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In its February story, the Camden New Journal noted how rare it is for Amnesty to directly address and criticise a local authority.

Model planning

New modular homes are springing up across the country, with a project in Peckham, London set to open in May 2022. Southwark News reports the 33 self-contained 21 metresquared studio flats will house young people who will pay a third of their income in rent – demonstrating a financially viable rent for the occupants. A spokesperson for charity Centerpoint’s Independent Living Programme said the project will free up much-needed hostel space, whilst also “tackling the shortage of quality affordable accommodation head-on.”

Displace disgrace

Hundreds of families in Nigeria have been made homeless overnight as government clearances, led by a fleet of bulldozers supervised by the military, police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, destroyed whole villages in the Diobu area of Urualla, Port Harcourt. The clearances started in late January, and have destroyed eight communities in the city so far, with three more neighbourhoods set to be cleared. The eight destroyed communities are home to an estimated 15,000 families. The government claim the clearances are part of an effort to “sanitise the waterfronts” of the southern Nigerian city. The now-displaced people that had been living in these communities, meanwhile, say they were given just seven days notice before the demolitions. “We are refugees in our own state,” said Diobu resident Mary Prince. The Guardian further reports that residents were offered neither consultation or compensation, as is required by law.

Homes alone

The latest figures, revealed in November 2021, show there are 238,306 homes in England classed as long-term empty homes. An empty home is classed as long-term if it has been vacant for at least six months. The number of empty homes is rising, by a staggering 20% in the five years from November 2016. The Action on Empty Homes Nobody Home report, published in September of last year, went further, revealing one in three homes in London’s financial centre are empty. Many of these properties will be left vacant to appreciate in value on the housing market.

Late news

Liverpool City Council has missed a deadline to propose a suitable building for a homeless shelter. It means it will lose more than £4m that had been pledged for the scheme by the government. The city’s previous year-round shelter had been closed during the pandemic. The money had been planned to be used alongside £6.393m of council funding for 60 en-suite bedrooms and 40 one bed apartments to support short-term homeless recovery. Cabinet member for adult health and social care, Frazer Lake, said that the withdrawal of the funding was a “bitterly disappointing blow”. Work with other projects is on-going, according to the Liverpool Echo.


A cut above

Hats off to Danny White Howe, a barber in Glasgow who devotes his Friday nights to offering his services for free to the city’s homeless population. While learning to cut hair, White Howe spent time volunteering at the Lodging Housing Mission in Gallowgate. He told the BBC he grew up with "a really nice background" and wants to help people less fortunate than he has been.

Homes reborn

Long-term empty homes in Glasgow are being repurposed and renovated to meet growing demand for housing. Rather than allow empty homes to degrade and fall into disrepair, Glasgow City Council has created an Empty Homes Strategy, designed to bring empty homes back into productive use. Since 2019, 607 homes which had been empty for at least six months are now in productive use. Scottish Housing News reports one of the express aims of the Empty Homes Strategy is to identify empty homes that can be repurposed as suitable accommodation for people experiencing homelessness.