A Walthamstow mum has been told she has to accept an offer of a council house 150 miles away from her East London family or be put at risk of homelessness.
Nadia Zaman, 38, who has three children under the age of 10 and has lived in Walthamstow her whole life was evicted from her family home last month after the breakdown of her marriage meant she could no longer afford rental payments.
She was placed in temporary accommodation after she applied to the council as a homeless person, however, she said the temporary accommodation offered by Waltham Forest Council was wholly unsuitable for a young family.
READ MORE: Mum-of-3 who has lived in Walthamstow for whole life faced being evicted and ‘alone, unsupported outside London’
(Image: Nadia Zaman)
The first room she was offered she said would have seen her share one bed with her three children in a house full of single men with dead mice lying in traps in the kitchen, while the one she had to accept is an 11-person, four-bedroom house share in Leyton.
Nadia has finally been offered permanent accommodation by Waltham Forest Council after weeks of waiting, but it’s more than 150 miles away in Stoke-on-Trent.
“This morning I got an email from Waltham Forest Council saying they’re offering me a place in Stoke-on-Trent, I need to go there on Saturday (July 24) and move in on Saturday,” Nadia said.
“How can you expect me to go there on Saturday without even looking at the place? How can you take me and my kids out of London, sending us there without any support network? Pulling my kids out of school?
“It’s going to be heart-breaking for my children.”
In the council’s letter to Nadia informing her of the housing offer, seen by My London, they explain that Nadia has been offered the Stoke-on-Trent three-bedroom maisonette because she is benefit capped, and this home is ‘significantly more affordable’ than any three-bedroom property in or near London.
Nadia has had several discussions with council representatives where she has explained she is willing to take a smaller, more affordable property in order to stay near to her family and support network.
She is also looking for a part time job to supplement her benefits, which she hopes would help her afford a better home in London.
But Nadia is out of time: if she doesn’t move into this house in Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday, July 24, the council will discharge its duty to her and she will not receive another offer of accommodation.
‘I don’t want to break my children’s hearts’
(Image: Phil Harris for ReachPlc The Mirror / Express and Star)
Instead, Nadia is staging another protest – like she did when she was evicted from her family home in June – with members of the community, London Renters Union, the Socialist Party and other groups and charities, this weekend – despite the fact she has “nowhere to go” and no back-up option.
She said: “How can they expect me to leave Walthamstow, leave London, leave my children’s school?
“I don’t want to break my children’s hearts and tell them we’re being chucked out of London, away from my mum, away from my sister, my family, my community.
“God forbid if anything happened to me or my kids – my mum can’t drive, my family can’t come all the way there to help us if something happens.
“It’s unfair, it’s going to affect my kids, especially, mentally and socially. I am very angry.”
Nadia wants some extra time to find a part time job and get some extra income so she can afford to stay in London with her family, and she hopes that the protest in Abbotts Park Road, Leyton this weekend will make the council reconsider.
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Cllr Louise Mitchell, Cabinet Member for Housing at Waltham Forest Council, said: “Waltham Forest Council works hard to provide accommodation for residents who request assistance.
“Our preference is to house every household locally. However, demand for housing in London far outstrips supply and we regret that it is not always possible to place people in the borough.
“Alongside our duty to offer accommodation to those in need, we also have a duty to make sure Council taxpayers’ money is being used in a sustainable and reasonable way and that we can continue to provide the essential day-to-day services on which all our residents rely.
“We must take into account the government’s benefits cap policy when we make any offer of accommodation and we must consider the financial circumstances of each household to ensure the offer is affordable and sustainable for them.
“The freeze on the rent that can be paid under the Local Housing Allowance makes it very challenging to find affordable accommodation in London.
“We cannot comment in more detail on individual cases.”
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