Homeless woman from Guyana with 'no immigration status' wins legal battle with council over emergency accommodation

Desiree Cort, 68, challenged Lambeth Council’s decision not to provide her with emergency accommodation to avoid her sleeping on the streets in June 2021

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A London council made a flawed decision when it refused to house a homeless woman in her 60s during the Covid-19 pandemic, a judge has ruled.

Desiree Cort, 68, challenged Lambeth Council’s decision not to provide her with emergency accommodation to avoid her sleeping on the streets in June 2021.

Council bosses disputed Ms Cort’s claim, but Judge Graham Wood has ruled in her favour.

The judge, who considered argument at a High Court hearing in London in February, said in a ruling published today that the council had not properly considered a Government “Everyone In” policy.

Homeless people in London
Homeless people in London

He said: “Essentially… the court is being asked to consider the significance in the local authority decision-making process on the street homeless of a declared Government initiative or policy described as ‘Everyone in’, which was announced at the start of the Covid pandemic.

"And which was aimed at removing rough sleepers from the streets regardless of their entitlement to public fund assistance, not only to avoid the spread of infection but also to protect those most vulnerable.

“In my judgment it is the absence of an appropriate and relevant consideration of the effect of the national policy and exhortation in Everyone in, which was supported by funding to provide accommodation for the street homeless, regardless of immigration status, which renders this decision-making process flawed.”

He said he was concerned that the council’s decision had been “informed by irrelevant matters”.

Judge Wood said Ms Cort was from Guyana, had no “immigration status” in the UK, and “no recourse to public funds”.

He said the council had agreed to house her pending his ruling.