Eight weeks after the apocalyptic fire at Grenfell Tower, the majority of survivors and evacuated residents remain without housing, despite all assurances to the contrary.
The official Grenfell Response newsletter of 1st August 2017 contains stark figures demonstrating the scale of the failure.
“So far, 174 offers of accommodation have been made, 45 offers have been accepted and 12 households have been rehoused.”
These figures are testament to the continuing misery and suffering people are enduring, people who’ve had such horrific and damaging experiences that even with exemplary care and rapid re-housing, it will take many years to recover.
The council’s approach to rehousing need – prioritising survivors from the Tower without taking into account individual circumstances of evacuated residents – whilst understandable, is proving too inflexible, causing some very vulnerable, evacuated residents great distress.
One such case is that of an 89-year-old disabled woman evacuated from Testerton Walk, her home since 1974. Bed ridden as the result of a stroke 3 years ago she had been cared for by her live-in son, Curtis, supplemented with a care package that provided 4 visits a day at home. Since being evacuated she’s been separated from her son, placed in 3 different care homes and hospitalised twice, the second time due to dehydration. This confirmed the family’s concerns about the level of care and attention she was receiving, since being evacuated she’s become very depressed and has lost a considerable amount of weight.
Despite being deemed a priority based on the housing needs points system, Curtis and his mum haven’t received a single rehousing offer. Returning to their previous home in Testerton Walk has been made impossible due to flooding caused by the temporary boiler. Their lives are in limbo, Curtis is deeply concerned about the serious impact this is having on his mother’s health
Another family of four also evacuated from Testerton Walk have been living in a hotel room for the last 7 weeks with no form of communication from the Council or other relevant authorities. The mother told community led coalition Justice for Grenfell that, whilst she recognises these are extraordinary circumstances,
“It feels as if we’re forgotten, that our issues are not important; we’re made to feel that we should be grateful, but how can we move on with our lives?”
The resounding message from campaigners and victims of the Grenfell disaster is that whilst they recognise the complexities of the situation, leaving severely traumatised and disabled people unsupported in inappropriate accommodation that only serves to increase the severity of their trauma is not acceptable. Everything is taking too long, there remains a distinct lack of empathy and care from many of those in authority, rebuilding trust is more or less impossible in such toxic conditions.