Currently, Rebecca Lowe, 50, lives in a two-bed property in Alperton, Brent, with her husband, two sons and her niece, who the family adopted. Her sons, ages 13 and 22, both over six feet tall and one of them autistic, sleep on bunk beds in a tiny space that she says “is probably not not considered a room”. Meanwhile, her four-year-old niece sleeps in a bed next to her adoptive parents’ bed.
Rebecca said being stuck at home ’causes a lot of stress’ and she worries about the impact it is having on her children’s mental health.
She said she has provided the housing association, Shepherds Bush Housing Group, with evidence from doctors and education professionals that shows her current home does not meet her family’s needs. Her autistic son “has nowhere to do his homework” and she says he was told he needed his own room to fully develop.
He’s likely to remain entirely dependent on his parents until he’s at least 25, and Rebecca said she ‘can’t wait another 10 to 15 years’ to work out the issues.
Speaking to MyLondon, Rebecca said: ‘I have my sons climbing on top of each other to bed every night, there’s really nowhere to put a desk or put their clothes. I measured their room and it’s smaller than a prison cell. That can’t be true, can it? It’s gotten to the point where we lose the will to live. The whole process was horrible.
Rebecca spent years asking to be relocated when it became clear her home was no longer suitable, but said she had been placed in a low priority strip. She said she had since been moved to a higher priority group, but had no joy when it came to bidding on a move.
She added: ‘I was told we would only be moved if we were deemed to be at high risk – that is if my children are in a gang or if I am suffering from domestic violence. Of course these people need support, I know what the situation is there and I know there are a lot of people who need housing.
“But you can’t ignore everyone, people who live with a disabled child, just tick a box and say ‘sorry, no’. I did everything they asked me to do. Everything what we want is to have a good boost, and I don’t think we’ve been given that.
Local Liberal Democrat councilor Anton Georgiou has raised Rebecca’s case with Brent Council, urging her to look at her own housing listings, as that’s where she pays council tax. He said: ‘When I met Rebecca and her family a few months ago I saw firsthand the extremely difficult housing situation they face. I am appalled that despite Rebecca’s best efforts to secure a more suitable home, Shepherds Bush Housing and others have simply ignored and kept the family waiting. In my time as a councillor, I have seen few housing cases as desperate as this.
“The current situation means the Lowe family are struggling on a daily basis and all of this is having a huge impact on their collective mental health and wellbeing. It shouldn’t take the intervention of a third party, a councillor, the press, for someone at Shepherds Bush Housing to listen to Rebecca.
“It is their duty to ensure adequate housing for their tenants. The Lowes and others in similar positions deserve so much better and shouldn’t have to fight so hard.
Caroline Moore, director of people and culture at Shepherds Bush Housing Group, said Rebecca’s case is under regular review but at the moment some people are considered to be in more urgent need. . She said: “Miss Lowe was given the highest priority we can assign in March 2020 for a management transfer. We regularly review our priority transfer list, but alongside Miss Lowe are a number of other households with similar or higher priorities.
“Unfortunately we have no three bedroom homes available to move Miss Lowe and we have very few properties available of this size due to the wider housing shortage in London. We must also take into account that local authorities have long waiting lists of homeless applicants who will be given priority over residents who are already housed.
“We appreciate that this is a very difficult situation, but we recommend that our residents sign up for ‘HomeSwapper’ to see if they are able to swap their home with someone who wants to downsize. its workforce or change location. We will arrange for Miss Lowe’s Guest Relations Manager to contact her and discuss any further assistance that can be provided. »
MyLondon has contacted Brent Council for comment.