11 years and counting for Redbridge man waiting on council home

A Redbridge man has waited a staggering 11 years for a council home, despite maximum waits being estimated at half that time.

Richard Kagumya, 29, is now homeless and “sofa surfing” with friends and relatives around the borough.

The waiting time for a studio flat on the council website is given as being up to six years and seven months but Richard is nearing double that figure.

He is one of 13,338 households on the waiting list, which prioritises applicants according to the time waiting, illness, dependent children and other factors.

Richard said he was told that his homeless status gave him priority when bidding for flats, but returned to the housing office when he found he was not able to apply for available properties.

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He said: “When they checked my file in the housing office someone had deleted all of my 11 years and put me on as if I had just started in 2013.

“So there was no way in the world I could get accommodation.”

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Richard first went on the list aged 18 to get his own space out of his family home in the Orchard Estate he shared with his four sisters and two brothers.

After university he became unemployed and now relies on friends to keep a roof over his head.

The council has now corrected his account but Richard worries other errors may not be spotted.

He said: “Some people wouldn’t know how to tackle it or resolve it.

“If they hadn’t told me what happened I would have just assumed it was still in the system.”

A council spokesman said Mr Kagumya’s data and account were not deleted, but an error when his application was re-assessed following a change in circumstances led to the wrong date being used.

She added; “All cases are judged on priority as well as the length of time on the waiting list. Mr Kagumya’s priority changed in 2012.

“Regular staff training and audits are carried out to ensure that cases are checked and the correct information used.”

She added 300 households are currently registered with a longer wait than Mr Kagumya.

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