“All we need is a bit of security for the few years we’ve got left on this earth” – Mum and son appeal for housing together

By Rebecca Spencer

A severely disabled man and his mother have been waiting for appropriate housing for more than a decade – even though they want to hand back a home to housing chiefs.

John Hatch, 58, and his mother Eileen, 82, currently each have a one-bedroom house with a large garden and want to move into a single home so they can free up a house for another family.

The two have been isolating together at Eileen’s house in Lewisham for the past two-and-a-half months, as John feels he cannot live alone.

But their landlord, housing association London and Quadrant, says it has advised him to go back to his home because they are overcrowded.

John Hatch suffers from epilepsy and fibromyalgia, which causes pain all over the body and has no cure. His mother suffers from Parkinson’s disease and is losing her memory, and they both suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which creates breathing problems.

John and Eileen have been told by doctors not to leave the house because they are at extreme risk from Covid, so living alone would mean complete isolation for both.

John is also facing extreme anxiety about his house being broken into when he is alone as he is immobile; he has experienced seven break-ins in the past 15 years.

“If I do go home, I will die in there, I can’t fend for myself,” said Mr Hatch.

Eileen said: “I’m really depressed, I don’t know what to do or where to go, I keep crying.

“All we need is a bit of security for the few years we’ve got left on this earth.”

The mother and son asked Lewisham council to move into suitable social housing together more than 10 years ago, but say they have been told time and time again that there is nothing available to fit their needs.

The Hatch family have requested a two-bedroom house or bungalow with a garden in the Lewisham or Bromley area, and do not wish to move into a block of flats because they suffer from claustrophobia and anxiety.

Two weeks ago the Hatch family say they were told by London and Quadrant that an offer to move into a ground floor flat near Chislehurst was their last option and that no other offers would be made because they had also previously rejected a third-floor flat in Eltham.

MP for Lewisham Vicky Foxcroft, who has been corresponding with the family about their housing situation, has urged them to carefully consider moving into the Chislehurst flat.

“Sadly the housing with a garden that they’re looking for is something that doesn’t become available very often,” said Foxcroft.

London and Quadrant said: “We’re sorry that Mr and Mrs Hatch are unhappy with their living arrangements, and we are doing everything we can to support them.

“Our policy only allows for one offer under direct let, but we have offered Mr and Mrs Hatch a second option as they didn’t feel the first was suitable.”

The wait for appropriate housing that the Hatch family have experienced is not uncommon; the average wait time for two-bedroom housing in London can be between eight to 10 years, Ms Foxcroft said.

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “Despite record-breaking stats of new genuinely affordable homes in London last year, there is still a significant need for new affordable homes, and the Mayor will continue to press the Government to provide the additional funding London urgently needs.”

Pictured: Eileen Hatch’s house



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