News

Family of five in temporary housing since 2019 slam treatment by council

The family are crammed into a two-bedroom flat which has been worsening the mother’s medical conditions, reports Grace Howarth, Local Democracy Reporter

One of the two bedrooms shared by the family of five
One of the two bedrooms shared by the family of five

A family of five living in a two-bed temporary accommodation flat have slammed Haringey Council over delays in finding them permanent housing after a “nightmare” few years.

David* told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that his wife Laura* approached the council in 2019 after declaring themselves homeless, along with their first child.

The situation was challenging as Laura has autism as well as seizures, which David says have worsened as a consequence of the family’s long-running housing issues. 

David said complications with extended family led to their need to find housing and they were forced to stay with a friend in Palmers Green who advised they approach the council.

However, their bid for help was not accepted and the family then approached Shelter, a homelessness charity, which was successful in getting the council to provide temporary housing in Hertford where the family lived for approximately one year. 

David said the council then moved the family to Enfield in November 2020, where they still live. 

The property is a two-bedroom flat and the family has since grown with the addition of two more children. David says all five of them sleep in one room as the council has attempted to “kick them out” twice, so they feel the need to be ready to move at a moment’s notice.

A doctor has communicated Laura’s medical condition and needs with the council several times, the last time being in March 2023.

David said the doctor confirmed that the flat was “not suitable” and if Laura moved it would need to be permanent to minimise impact. The doctor also negated the council’s initial intention to attempt to take the family “back to Norwich” where they had lived before declaring homelessness. 

Despite this, David said the council “still didn’t do anything” for several months.

In September 2023, the council accepted it had a ‘main housing duty’ for the family and completed a housing assessment.

David said the housing officer put down in their report the flat was “small” and Laura’s medical conditions and was told the council would do its best to move them “as quickly as possible”. 

However, the family says they have not had an update and were told they “had to wait”. David said they were planning on protesting in front of the council’s offices before approaching the press.

He said Laura didn’t feel safe, and moved around the house “shouting and crying” in front of the children. David also said they’d attempted to engage solicitors over the years but had been told they could not help.

In response a council spokesperson said: “We appreciate and understand the concerns of the family but with limited resources and options available to us, we are doing everything we can to help those most in need.

“The council has provided accommodation since 2019 for the family, who are currently living in a two-bedroom flat on the ground floor which helps with access to the building.

“We have been engaging with the family, including an officer recently meeting them, and an update will be provided shortly.

“We will of course undertake a review of the property’s suitability but, unfortunately, there is a chronic shortage of family-sized accommodation in the borough.

“Last year alone we received 4,400 homelessness applications, one of the highest in London, and have more than 12,000 families on our waiting list for council housing.”

*Real names not used as family requested anonymity


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