Betiel Mahari is a single mother of two children, aged 10 and 11. She works in retail on a zero-hours contract. Housing has been a massive issue in her life for the last 4 or 5 years - she became an activist to try to save her own home. Betiel lived on the Loughborough Park Estate in Brixton for 11 years, until her family lost their home when the estate was completely demolished by Guinness Trust in a £75m "regeneration" scheme. She was forced to leave Brixton, with huge disruption to her family. ("That's what regeneration does," she says.) Her children are now commuting the lengthy distance from Newington to Brixton in order to maintain their educational stability and friends. Betiel's own health has been affected and she describes her life as "totally ruined".
Betiel is now fighting to stave off being evicted for a second time, because her "affordable" home in Newington is not affordable. Betiel says: "'Affordable' rent is a con. It's set at 80% of market rents, not according to any measure of actual affordability. With two kids it requires an income of £35,000, which is higher than the national average, and the cap on Housing Benefit payments means I won't have enough money coming in to maintain our family's tenancy. When I visited the office of Neil Coyle MP seeking help, he said he would be in touch and then I heard nothing."
Betiel is passionate about social housing, and how important it is to maintain it. Previously involved with Lambeth Green Party, Betiel is now standing for the Green Party here in the local elections because of its commitment to social housing and providing everyone with a safe and affordable home.