Council told us ‘sleep in the kitchen’, says Hornsey Rise mum

The woman says she was told to sleep in her kitchen. Picture: Polly Hancock

The woman says she was told to sleep in her kitchen. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Flats are so overcrowded in a Hornsey Rise council estate that more than 10 families are being forced to sleep in their kitchens, claims one single mother.

The woman, who has asked the Gazette not to print her name, lives in a two-bed flat in Keir Hardy House, Hazellville Road, with her sons, eight and five, and 10-month-old twins.

She says the space is so small she can’t change her twins’ cots into toddler beds or fit their walkers in the front room, and a housing officer allegedly told her to kip in the kitchen. Islington Council was unable to verify this claim, but said the solution wasn’t town hall policy.

“There are so many people on my estate that are sleeping in the kitchen [due to overcrowding],” she said. “But I’m not prepared to do that – it’s dangerous. The rehousing team at Islington Council have told me to use the space to sleep in as my kitchen is bigger than normal, saying: ‘People use any space they can get.’ I just laughed. It’s ridiculous.”

She said her two oldest kids are sleeping in a space so small “it should be against the law to be called a bedroom”, and that she barely has room to move in her own room due to the twins under-sized cots being crammed in.

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She also claims damp caused by these leaks, coupled with poor heating, exacerbates her daughter’s Reynaud’s disease – a condition affecting circulation that can be painful in cold temperatures – causing her hands to “swell up” and feel like they’ve been grazed with “razor blades”.

The household is currently bidding for a three-bed flat but has insufficient housing points to be a priority.

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An Islington Coucil spokesperson said: “We are aware of the tenant’s housing application and are concerned about the issues raised. We are sorry if there was any confusion – advising tenants to use their kitchens to sleep in is not something we would do or encourage. An inspection is due in the coming weeks to address concerns of damp. [...]

“We do everything we can to help people in unsuitable housing and have agreed to reconsider the application following the technical inspection of the home.”

They added that Islington is facing “a housing crisis” with some 14,000 households on its waiting list. Three- and four-bed family homes are in high demand.

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