July 31 2014 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Senior reporter
Friday, March 28, 2014
A new mother, her baby and three young children are living crammed into one bedroom as Redbridge’s housing crisis continues.
Nokoso Ilekana, 42, was moved into the emergency accommodation in Romford by Redbridge Council in February last year.
“They said we would be there for a week,” she said. “It’s just a room, - there’s no sitting area, no kitchen, no nothing.”
Her youngest child is a baby girl born earlier this month and one-year-old twins and her oldest daughter, aged four, also live there.
At the moment they are with their father until Nokoso leaves Queen’s Hospital, where she is having post-natal treatment.
She said: “Before, we lived in Barkingside and I had a two-bedroom flat but the landlord sold it and the council put us into a bed and breakfast in Chadwell Heath.”
Her sister, Bridgitte Ilekana, said the cramped conditions were “dangerous” for the children and paramedics called there during Nokoso’s pregnancy were so concerned they phoned the police.
The family will stay in the temporary accommodation, which is used for people at risk of becoming homeless, until a council house can be found.
Nokoso, who works as a cleaner, is hoping to get a three-bedroom home for her and the four children and turned a two-bedroom property down last year.
She said: “It was too small and housing officers said ‘if it’s not big enough, don’t take it’.
“They said we would be stuck there for 10 or 15 years and it’s not enough for grown children.”
Redbridge has the lowest social housing stock in London outside of the City and demand considerably exceeds supply.
As of January, there were 14,359 applicants on the waiting list. More than 6,700 were classed as high priority and most were waiting for family-sized properties.
According to the council website, people can expect to wait 11 years and nine months for a four-bedroom home and the shortest wait is three years and one month for a one-bed property.
The council would not comment on Nokoso’s case but a spokesman said: “We work very hard to re-house tenants and licensees where there are requests to do so and consider each case on its own merits.”