Havering’s homelessness crisis: Young families ‘shoehorned’ into sheltered accommodation
15:58 04 September 2014
Elderly residents are shocked by an “inhumane” and “callous” council decision to move homeless families into a guest room in their sheltered accommodation now that hostels are packed to the rafters.
Residents – some in their nineties – were unaware that young families would be moved into Sunrise Lodge, in Sunrise Avenue, Hornchurch, as was the block’s tenant management organisation, Petra.
But, on Friday, a mother and her three children, aged three, six and 13, were “shoehorned” into a bedroom containing two single beds.
Petra’s chairman, Mike Davis, wrote to Hornchurch and Upminster MP Dame Angela Watkinson to express his disgust.
He said: “I have been shocked and disappointed at the callous actions of council officers.
“It needs to be said that the majority of the elderly residents are sympathetic to the situation these homeless people are in, but housing young people in a complex that has a 55-years-of-age criteria is not a valid solution to an ongoing problem. This is a generation who are frail and many have serious health problems and are quite weary of young people.”
Residents were told by Havering’s housing manager, Jonathan Geall, that the situation would only last for three weeks while the borough’s three hostels – which can house up to 279 people – are full and bed and breakfasts cannot be found.
Havering’s housing chief, Cllr Damian White, has promised an “urgent review” of housing stock so that demand can be met.
He said: “We have experienced a peak in demand for urgent hostel places and have had to take a very short-term, pragmatic decision to place some families in guest accommodation in our sheltered housing.”
By Tuesday, the family of four had moved out and it was believed that a single mother with a one-year-old baby were to take their place.
Sunrise Lodge resident Brian Laws, 74, who himself was once homeless and slept in a car, said: “You can’t move a person in like that. That one-year-old baby has got to be fed and there’s no kitchen for them.”
Fellow resident June Nicholls, 68, said: “We are shocked. We don’t want them here. But we can’t do much. We are elderly – we are getting ready to pop into our coffins.”