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Homeless mums occupy London flats to highlight housing crisis

Focus E15 Mothers group says plenty of available homes in local area

Homeless mums have occupied a boarded up block of flats to highlight the number of empty homes and number of people in need of social housing.

Focus E15 Mothers began the occupation on Sunday night after they were booted from the east London hostel they lived in with their small children when it was closed down due to council budget cuts.

Instead of being offered new homes, the young mothers were advised to find private accommodation or accept being relocated away from the capital.

But the group’s spokeswoman Jasmin Stone suggested there are plenty of available homes within the E15 postcode.

“Stratford’s Carpenter’s Estate, which overlooks the Olympic Village, has 2,000 empty council homes due to Newham Council’s decision to sell off the land to a private developer,” said Ms Stone.

The occupied building, comprised of four flats, was found in perfect condition with electricity and running water.

In just a few hours they turned it into a vibrant social centre which will house activities and events over the next couple of weeks.

They also opened it up to the public as an unofficial member of the Open House London weekend— where architecturally significant private, public and residential buildings across the capital are opened to the public for free.

Newham Council issued a statement in reply to the occupation arguing that the estate “has been earmarked for redevelopment since 2010 as refurbishment of the three main tower blocks would have been prohibitively expensive for both the council and leaseholders.”

It added that the homes were to be used “as temporary accommodation to help alleviate housing pressure.”

Yet the Star can confirm that the occupied block had been empty for a few years, with a 2004 calendar hanging from the wall of a flat still partly furnished.

Ms Stone described the social centre as “beautiful” and called on the council to offer the homes to the Focus E15 mums, even promising to personally take on the refurbishing costs.

“These homes need families, these people need homes,” she added.

Last year’s figures showed the average cost of a home in Newham was estimated at £228,216. The borough has recurrently been found to be counted among the lowest average household incomes in London.


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