By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter
Homeless mothers are living in “disgusting” homes with rodent infestations and light switches that shock their children, with the number of people sleeping on the streets hitting record figures.
Greenwich council is reportedly seeing record numbers of families seeking temporary accommodation, with the council being responsible for 1,880 households in need of a home at the end of June this year.
The council revealed it was spending up to £800,000 a month on Travelodge bookings to temporarily house families.
One mum, who wished to remain anonymous, said she had been living in a Travelodge in Blackheath Road for three weeks with her two children.
She said that the council had been doing its best to support her and helped her get out of a previous property.
She said: “I spent five years in that property.
“The landlord left the country. Nothing was done, there was no hot water or heating for two years.
“There were infestations of mice and rats because of holes in the rooms. My children had electric shocks just from touching the light switch.”
The mum said staff at the Travelodge were excellent.
She said: “It’s been nice to have someone step in and say, ‘enough is enough, we cannot allow this to happen,’ I feel like it’s reduced my anxiety.”
Combined Homelessness and Information Network figures stated 4,068 people were homeless in London between July and September this year.
The association said in August that one in 50 Londoners were living in temporary accommodation secured by their local authority.
A mum, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was placed in Travelodge Woolwich with her two daughters, aged one and 16 years old, by Greenwich council after becoming homeless while on maternity leave.
She said: “This is the third move we’ve had in a week.
“We were placed in a very disgusting drug and alcohol hostel over one weekend. I couldn’t even take my 16 year old there – she had to stay with another family member but I did have the baby with me. So it’s not been great.”
She added: “Our social worker has stressed that they are going to try and find us somewhere as soon as possible because it’s just far too expensive for the council to be putting us in hotels.”
The mum said she wants to get back to work but fears being able to afford private accommodation while also feeding her family.
She said: “Obviously I need to eat as well but there’s been days that I’ve gone without just so that they can eat.
“That’s my priority, to make sure the children are OK.”
She added: “The staff have been amazing. There’s a little juice facility which you’re not supposed to use during the day but they’ve allowed me to go and get juice for the baby.”
A Greenwich council spokesman said that the authority provides cash payments for hot meals to those living in hotels. They said that more than 27,000 households were currently on the council’s housing waiting list, and that the current housing supply allowed for the authority to allocate a home to around 1,000 households a year.
A spokesman said: “Locally we are trying to tackle some of the shortfall by building 1,750 new homes specifically for local people on our waiting list and will continue to lobby for greater resources for councils.”
Pictured top: One woman said she had been living in the Travelodge in Blackheath Road with her children for three weeks (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga, MyLondon)
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