Opinion: As Ealing Council gives notice to residents to move out of what has been described as “shipping container hell” housing developments Meath Court in Acton and Marston Court in Hanwell, one resident shares her letter to Ealing Council about how she and others have been treated over the way in which Ealing Council is arranging temporary accommodation for them and how the council “dehumanises” them.
“I’m writing from Marston Court, the facility you decided to close in order to protect the council interest (as stated in the notice to quit xxxx xxxxxx gently sent us).
“I have been served with the notice and given 4 weeks notice to leave the premises. As stated in the letter the council needs to give us a SUITABLE offer of alternative temporary accommodation.
“Yesterday I was asked to view this suitable accommodation: you are offering me and my 5 year old a room.
“We are coming from a 1 bedroom flat, we have been living here for 2 years and now you are offering us a bed and breakfast room.
“I told the allocation officer (xxxx xxxxxx) on the phone, crying, that the property it isn’t suitable for the mental health of both me and my daughter, she then replied to just leave the property and send her an email with my reasons.
“Today I received an email from xxxxx xxxxx (suitability and refusal officer) telling me that they had informed social services because i have refused a suitable accommodation.
“She then gave me 4 days time to move into the new property (last night in Marston Court has to be the 26 of November).
“4 days to move 2 years of my and my daughter life, alone, while working. And bear in mind at the current time (22/11/23 5pm) I still don’t have the keys of the new “suitable” accommodation.
“You moved us here 2 years ago, dehumanising me and my child, left us with no basic facilities, without hot water for 2 years, without a working toilet, with drug dealers. It was a living hell, but it was temporary and we made a house out of this.
Now you are destroying our life again moving us into a room, which is less suitable than a shipping container, can you believe it?
“We will have no space at all to live, my daughter mental health and social life will be destroyed completely, she will have to sleep in the same bed as me, interrupting the past 2 years of growth, at a critical age for her development.
“The room, because I refuse to call it studio flat, doesn’t even have a washing machine, which will force me to find a solution outside the house and of course pay for it. And I’m sure if you have kids this age you know I will have to do laundry at least 3 times per week. Is the council going to cover it? I guess not.
“When you first moved me here to Marston Court the facility was unfurnished, I had to spend my own money and now I have to move into a room, is the council going to cover a storage for us? I guess not.
“Ms xxxxxx gently told me I shouldn’t have bought furniture in a temporary accommodation, I guess I should’ve let my daughter sleep on the floor for 2 years.
“I came to this council to help, when my ex partner tried to kill me and I needed help to escape domestic violence. This system is letting me down so bad.
You keep talking about helping “your” people, campaigning against domestic violence, showing off new housing, you want to “reshape Ealing council to deliver greater engagement with its communities” and yet you let people in need living a nightmare.
“This is surviving after surviving, you are killing us day by day.
“You keep saying you care about your people and yet you’re letting a child, a British citizen live first into a shipping container and after in a room. All this rush to move us (30 families) and nowhere to go.”
“I have been bidding through Locata for 2 years, so when you say “there are no other houses” you are lying.
“But I guess I was never a priority with my band C, even coming from my situation and living in a shipping container, and I guess I’m not a priority now, when I have 4 days to leave this place for a room.
“Funny how though even xxxxxx told me I’m actually entitled to a 2 bedrooms flat, and yet you’re moving me into a room. “Temporarily”, as it should’ve been this place, 6 months you said at the beginning.
“If you really want to help “your” people, instead of “reshaping” Ealing council, take away the houses from people that can afford to pay rent. Send sigle people to these rooms and give one bedroom flat to families. Check people that are claiming to be single and have partners living in the council houses with them, with 2 incomes.
“There’s no shortage of houses, there are just people living in houses they shouldn’t have and you just don’t care.
“And I know this email will be just another email that all of you can ignore, because I know none of you really care about the struggling of your people, but I had to try again, like I did for the past years, since 2020 when I asked for help from my ex partner to today when you want to dehumanise me again. I am so disappointed and desperate, sometimes I wish I never came to you for help.
“I’m going to attach to this email the video I took of the “suitable” accommodation and please, I just need an answer to this question from who has children: would you live here for God’s knows how long, with your child?
“If the answer is yes, I invite you to take it for a couple of months, so you can really see what it means.
“Also apparently this room is suitable for three people, if they’re standing I guess.
“I’m also attaching the emails I have received from xxxx and xxxxx (and I also have a recording of the calls, just in case they want to say they “never said so”).
“Thank you for nothing, as usual”
In a statement to EALING.NEWS in October 2023, Ealing Council Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for safe and genuinely affordable homes said the council will be taking action for both Meath Court and Marston Court in Hanwell: “I met with residents of both Meath and Marston Courts recently, and have seen first-hand the challenges many of them are facing.
“We’re absolutely committed to ensuring families in Ealing have safe, secure and genuinely affordable homes to live in.
“That’s why we’ve recognised that the accommodation at Meath and Marston Courts is not good enough, and committed to move all of the families into alternative temporary accommodation in the coming months. “