Problems at Greenway House continue as residents moved

News / Sat 10th Sep 2022 at 07:28am

Greenway House: Credit: Google

PEOPLE living in a temporary accommodation block hit by repeated flooding have slammed Enfield Council over its “unfair” plans to rehouse them reports the Local Democracy Reporter.

Residents of Greenway House, a former office block on a business park in The Pinnacles,Harlow have been left dismayed after being offered rooms in hotels and faraway towns while the council carries out renovation work on the block.

The building, which was converted into temporary accommodation to house homeless residents in 2018, has been affected by flooding that left some flats plagued by damp and mould. Earlier this year, the council told some people they would have to move out of the building while it carries out renovation work, causing further disruption for families.

Despite pledging three years ago to start phasing out the use of temporary accommodation outside the borough, Enfield Council now says it plans to continue using Greenway House as temporary accommodation after the renovation work is complete.

Miriam Piotrowicz, who has two daughters aged four and five, has lived in Greenway House for more than four years. She said the council planned to house her in a hotel – initially one outside Harlow – where she feared she would have to stay for up to six months. If she refused, she said the council told her it would end its “duty” to her and she would be made homeless.

Miriam said this meant she would have no kitchen, no meals provided, no washing machine and no help paying for her children’s food. Other residents had been made similar offers, she added.

The mother-of-two said: “My kid was accepted to her first pre-school, and I do not see why she has to move out of that because of a move away from Harlow. I need a washing machine. How can they expect my kids to eat takeaways and for me to afford that?

“I don’t know what to do […] I’m not asking for anything more than I am entitled to – a normal, safe property to live in. It is terrible how they are treating us. It is their duty to look after this building, and because they have not, now we are suffering.”

Miriam said she had been told the work was being carried out on Greenway House because of the mould and damp problems, and because the building was “unsafe” because of a lack of fire exits on the first and second floors.

Mould in a flat at Greenway House (credit Miriam Piotrowicz)

She said she had struggled with damp and mould for three years and once went without hot water for eight months. Despite reporting the mould “many times” she said the council “did nothing about it” for years. After water poured in through a leaking roof, she had to be evacuated to a hotel and had to buy replacements for belongings that had been damaged by the flood.

Although Miriam was moved to a new flat in March, she said it also had mould. The experience had left her “mentally drained”, she added, and at one point she was hospitalised after an anxiety attack. Her daughter suffers breathing difficulties, which she says were caused by the damp and mould.

“It is so inhumane,” Miriam said. “I’ve worked my whole life. I’ve been an honest person. I stopped working due to having two kids […] As soon as I can, I will get a job. We’re not animals, we’re humans.”

Ellif Sagir, another resident of Greenway House, has a four-year-old daughter and is seven months pregnant. She said the council offered her two studio flats, which would be too small for her family, before finding her a one-bedroom place in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Ellif said: “As far as I’m concerned, Enfield Council should not send us out of the borough anyway. I said: ‘I’m sure I’m not going to accept that’. The offer was ridiculous – it was so far out of the borough. My child has a secure place [at a primary school] and the only useful place to move to is Harlow.”

Moving to Hitchin would also mean changing hospitals, Ellif added, which she feared would affect her health as she has appointments booked at her current hospital. She also does not drive, and it would be too far away from her family.

“They [the council] dismissed it and said ‘not good enough’,” Ellif said. “What they offered me as a one-bedroom was a basement [flat] and too far away for me to start again with a kid there. I refused, and they said they had ended their duty to me, and ‘you are making yourself homeless’.”

Ellif said she could not move into private-sector accommodation because her benefits are capped. She added: “Every single day I am expecting someone to turn up at my door and physically take me out […] At the moment, my life is on hold. I don’t know what is going on.”

Ellif said she felt the council had “threatened” her with social services when she refused to move. She said the council told her that social services would care about where her child was going and the fact that she was facing homelessness. “I said: ‘I am not – you are forcing me to become homeless because of something you can easily resolve. I am not leaving my property.”

Responding to the problems highlighted by Greenway House residents, a council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the issues raised by the tenants and are working hard to make sure the transition from Greenway House is as smooth as possible for all involved.”

Greenway House contains 83 flats, and 43 of these are currently occupied. The council said it supports all households in temporary accommodation to move into their own accommodation and that it is currently in the process of moving seven households out of Greenway House to make improvements to the building.

The spokesperson added: “We are required to provide suitable temporary accommodation to some households experiencing homelessness. We sometimes have to place households into hotels, sometimes outside of Enfield, for short periods while we identify more suitable temporary accommodation.

“We always consider the needs of a household during a move and will provide meals where required.”

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10 Comments for Problems at Greenway House continue as residents moved:

2022-09-10 07:55:06

Why are we still letting Enfield council house people here. I though the council (both Labour and conservative) promised to put a stop to this?

Kim Oconnor
2022-09-10 08:32:25

This is what happens when Harlow council, join other councils. It's a real bad idea. Who do you call, who owns what slice of land, who do you moan to .just ridiculous. I reported a flood under the under pass , they didn't know who owned what . We will have a lot more of theses flood in future by the time they all finish building. Clearly this council has not considered needs of theses people, what about the kids school, ect ect. If Harlow council had not put greed before the people of Harlow, with not providing suitable accommodation for theses people, by, building lots more council ,rather than building thousands an thousands of unaffordable housing estates, councils would not be in this mess. People have very good memories, we know where your priorities are, we have seen your plans for Harlow, and it doesn't sit well with us.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-09-10 11:00:14

Lets be clear readers that this is little if anything to do with Harlow Council. This is a building that was converted from offices into flats, they did not need Planning Permission because the Tory Government passed legislation which allowed such conversions without any thought to the consequences. These flats were initially going to be sold, a couple of open days were held during which I paid a visit. Many people put down deposits because on the face of it many thought they were getting a good buy. As a former Housing Manager however I could see there was a fundamental flaw which I pointed out to staff trying to sell them. That was, most flats had only one set of windows, these were very large, with just one opening. There was little opportunity to provide adequate ventilation and the kitchens were at the furthest point of the flat from the windows. Dampness (condensation) within each flat was inevitable. For what ever reason, the deposits paid were refunded and the next thing known was that Enfield Council started to use it for homeless families. Harlow Council did not put them there and they have no responsibility for providing any of its homes to these families. Harlow Council does not receive money from Enfield, the only income is from the Council tax paid, which I understand is less than if the building had remained as offices. Harlow Council has no power to stop Enfield from using this building or indeed any of the other 12+ flat blocks in the town which are now used for providing homes.

2022-09-10 16:26:37

I'm from Harlow, My kids are from Harlow, My parents are from Harlow but can I be considered for a council house ?? No because I'm a single working man so I have to rent a room in a shared house with extortionate prices and where people take drugs freely. Bloody joke !!!

2022-09-11 06:52:27

It's like a new town all over again, taking over spill from London but giving a terrible experience where profit has come before care in the first of the conversions.

Kim Oconnor
2022-09-11 10:51:53

Your right Chris, profit has come before the people. No thought has come in to account of the 5OOO people waiting for homes in Harlow Town. Sort the problem out in your own towns, instead of putting the problem s from one town on to another. Stop all theses unaffordable housing estates on our green belt, that most of us can not afford, and get down to sorting out the real problems in theses towns. All your doing is making a bad name for your self, through greed and profit.

2022-09-12 02:59:35

Kim O’Connor did you not read the reply above by Nicholas Taylor. This has nothing to do with Harlow Council. The property on question is owned by Enfield Borough Council and is used by them to provide temporary accommodation to persons from Enfield. Why are talking about has nothing to do with article.

Kim Oconnor
2022-09-12 08:54:49

Tom, if you sell of to other councils this is what happens. Yes I did read. Our town is not Our own. So consequently this is what you get.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-09-12 10:36:10

Kim, Harlow Council have not sold off to other Councils. The office building at The Pinnacles and every other one used now for flats has never to my knowledge been owned by the Council. They have been built and sold by companies. What is so wrong with the Tory Government policy was that offices like Greenway House are often in the middle of an industrial area, far from shops, schools and other services. Many homes in Harlow, sold to sitting tenants of the Council since 1980 have since then been sold by those former tenants and many of these have been purchased by other Councils, again nothing to do with Harlow Council.

2022-09-12 13:05:46

Kim O'Connor, you seem to be very confused. These properties are not and we’re not owned by the Council. However, countries that enjoy higher economic growth levels tend to have and encourage greater mobility. You only need to look at the USA, where people readily up sticks and move vast distances to other states for work and living experiences. One of the failures of successive UK governments has been to try to cater for people wherever they are. This has encouraged people to expect the State to intervene to provide support rather than encourage people to be enterprising and more self-reliant. For example, if an area is growing and has a labour or skills shortages, Government could provide incentives to people to move. Therefore, places in the South East, like Harlow, which have extensive Council Housing lists (not clear how much is totally genuine or eligible) many of these people could be incentivized to move to other areas offering better opportunities. Likewise, those with the higher skills currently demanded by high tech companies moving here will have scope to move. This could reduce the need for more house building and demands on services like education and healthcare, etc. Nobody has a God given right to live anywhere, unless they own their property. We should not expect the State to provide everything. It is just wrong. Only economic growth will ensure prosperity.

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