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From The Socialist newspaper, 28 November 2012

Housing for the Counihans, housing for all

No cuts in Brent, no cuts at all!

Some 50,000 families are currently accepted as homeless, a number which has risen by almost 50% in the past year. If this trend continues, we could expect many hundreds of thousands of families likely to be living in temporary accommodation by 2020.

My family and I were made homeless in April of this year. That was 18 months after declaring 18 a week from a piece of land in Ireland which my mother and father were told could not be sold, as they would be divesting themselves of a 'capital' asset to keep a means-tested benefit, and that they could be done for fraud for selling it.

My mother got a phone call saying that housing benefit had been stopped for our family, and that my mother and father had to pay 70,000. We were also given an eviction date.

We were placed into temporary accommodation in Ealing. We have been here for seven months now.

My mother's hip replacement has been put off as you need to be in suitable accommodation for this operation. My youngest brother, Vinny, has autism - children with autism need routine and the council don't seem to have any consideration with how we are coping mentally and emotionally.

In August my father was told to sell the land in Ireland. If the correct advice was given to my family, the hell we have gone through could have been prevented.

Hypocrisy

Muhammed Butt, Labour leader of Brent council, recently wrote a letter to the Guardian newspaper, about how "moving residents out of the city and away from their communities (and in many cases, families) is absolutely the last thing I want to have to do". Actions would speak louder than words.

We have started a campaign - The Counihan Campaign. The message of this campaign is 'Housing for the Counihans, Housing for all, No cuts in Brent, No cuts at all!'

We want to make people aware of what is going on with councils and how they may be affected in the near future if they haven't been already. We hold public meetings for people in the area to come and share their stories.

On 26 November, housing benefit was reinstated to my family. We have continued to fight, and have reached one of our goals, so we will keep going!

Many people who we have met while this campaign has been growing have said they will join our march on 1 December from Kilburn station at 1pm, to South Kilburn.

Our campaign has grown, my family has gone from seven members to dozens! It's an amazing feeling to stand up and fight.

Sarah Counihan-Sanchez

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In The Socialist 28 November 2012:


 

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