'I feel ignored': Mum of three speaks out about bid to escape cramped housing

Elizabeth Rees

Elizabeth Rees, 31, lives with her partner and three children in a "cramped" two-bedroom flat, with no outside space. - Credit: Elizabeth Rees

A mother of three has spoken out about her fight to get a suitable home through Havering's housing waiting list. 

Elizabeth Rees, 31, lives in a Romford two-bed flat with her partner Thomas, 35, and three children who all share the same bedroom - Riley, 12; nine-year-old Sydney; and Ruby, who is seven.

Children's room

The three children sleep on bunk beds in same bedroom which has no space for a wardrobe. - Credit: Elizabeth Rees

At the start of the pandemic, in May 2020, Elizabeth suffered a mental health breakdown and was sectioned.  

A letter from Elizabeth's mental health nurse to the council stated she was “very likely to experience a relapse in her mental health due to her living conditions”.  

Aware of the impact of having a relapse on her family, Elizabeth is desperate to move to a bigger property.  

A Havering Council spokesperson said the Rees family have been on the housing register since June 2021.  

Elizabeth's Room

Elizabeth and Thomas' bedroom is full of their children's clothes as the kid's bedroom has no space for a wardrobe. - Credit: Elizabeth Rees

But due to the pandemic, Elizabeth claimed it took “over a year” to get onto the council’s housing list.

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Once she managed to register, she said: “They put me down as a standard overcrowding band-two property, even after I supplied them with GP, social services and numerous other letters.  

“I feel ignored. Suffering with mental health, they are meant to help and advise you but they’ve not offered me any advice and they didn’t take my medical history into account.  

“The ultimate reason I had a breakdown was due to the Covid restrictions and my property being so cramped.”  

Havering Council’s spokesperson said: “We are working to assess her requirements, and will continue to help her to find a more suitable home for her family.” 

Elizabeth said although she is in a better place now with the help of medication, the housing situation means she could “break again”.  

“I do really well to cope in my situation because I don’t get any care or additional support. I just want to have space and a home where I can live a normal life.  

“I’m not living in an environment which is right for anyone,” said Elizabeth.   

Living Room

The living area in the flat is where Elizabeth has to hang the laundry due to having no access to a balcony or garden. - Credit: Elizabeth Rees

The council’s spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic, the council has been on hand to support residents however we can – whether that be with housing, food or financial assistance. 

“Detail of how to find this support has been widely publicised.”