Hunger strikers protest against housing benefit cuts
Three men have launched a hunger strike outside Camden Town Hall to protest against housing benefit cuts which they say have left them homeless and unable to access healthcare.
Ali Shokrolahi, 31, Abdul Rahim Dehbozourgi, 33, and a third man have now been protesting for three days. Mr Shokrolahi and the third man, who have refugee status, said they lived in flats in Broadhurst Gardens in Camden but their housing benefit was cut from £245 weekly to £88 in July, leaving them unable to pay their rent.
The changes came about because of government reforms to the welfare system, the council has said.
Mr Shokrolahi was diagnosed with sclerosis of the liver in March 2011 and has since had regular hospital appointments and has been placed on the liver transplant waiting list.
But since being made homeless he has been suspended from the waiting list because the hospital must be able to guarantee a suitable environment in which he could recover from a transplant.
Mr Shokrolahi told the Camden New Journal he had gained residential status in the UK in 2008. Mr Dehbozourgi said his asylum application had been refused by a court but appealed last month.
Julian Fulbrook, cabinet member for housing said: ‘This case highlights the real impact of government cuts to welfare benefits and I have every sympathy for the plight of the gentlemen concerned.
‘When Mr Shokrolahi presented himself as homeless to the council in July, we allocated temporary space for him at Endell Street in Holborn while we assessed his needs, particularly in relation to his health problems.’
He added: ‘Our housing options team have been trying to work with him but he has refused to engage with us.
‘Despite this, we have arranged an interview with Mr Shokrolahi today for accommodation with the necessary bathroom provision required. Mr Shokrolahi’s transplant co-ordinator has indicated that this accommodation would be suitable to enable him to go back onto the transplant list.’
The council also said it was helping the other men. People with refugee status can apply for housing benefit.