Disabled residents set to be moved from extra care home in Clapham claim they were not consulted by housing association

Disabled residents say they have been left feeling “distraught” after claims that a housing association decided to move them from their homes without consultation following a fire safety survey.

More than 50 residents of 44 Clarence House in Clapham have been told they have to leave the building after a fire survey found a number of faults – but they say they have not been properly informed of where and when they will have to move.

Maria Ying is a former engineer whose daughter Louise lives in the building and said they have not been given enough information to explain why the faults in the building require a “mass evacuation”.

“My daughter called me and she was very agitated and upset,” said Maria. “She said to me ‘mummy they’re chucking me out and my carers don’t know where they will go’.

“Some residents have already left and some are being moved to other parts of London with no assessment of how their lives will be affected by this. They are breaking up a community.

“It’s not confirmed that they can return once the works are finished.” 

Louise said the news made her feel angry and distressed.

“It’s like a family thing. We’re a family here. Why didn’t they check the building before we moved in?” Louise said.

44 Clarence House is split into three sections, with extra care provided in one section

The building is owned by housing association Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH), with one third dedicated to extra care homes and the rest privately leased.

Maria claimed she had spoken with residents who live in privately leased flats in the building and said they had not been asked to move.

The fire safety survey follows a fire that took place in March earlier this year where a woman died in one of the flats in the building. 

A London Fire Brigade incident report said the fire damaged half of a flat on the fourth floor of a seven storey building. 

Residents and their families criticised MTVH and Lambeth council, who placed many of the residents in the building, as the survey took place seven months after the fire.

Akiyawerikumo Henry is a full time carer for her sister Caroline who lives in the building said she is “absolutely devastated and saddened”.

“For this to happen in the middle of a pandemic just before christmas is really sad,” Akiyawerikumo said. “The sense of family and community here is powerful. Some of them have been here for 10 years.

“Caroline said to me ‘we’re having a party every weekend because we’re going to lose each other soon and we need to make the most of it’. That absolutely broke me.

“Caroline requires support at any given moment and it’s taken years to get a room to fit her needs. If she is allocated somewhere new we are worried she would have to move before the adaptations can be made to her room.

“They deserve respect from these institutions. We’ve been left in the dark. No one has sat down with residents and family to allow them to have a voice.”

A spokesman for MTV said: “Following inspections of the structure of the building, defects relating to fire safety have been found that we will now be working with the original developer to put right. 

“Unfortunately, due to the challenges many residents would face in evacuating from the building in the event of a fire without significant support from others, we have agreed with Lambeth Council that residents will be supported to move to suitable alternative accommodation.

“We have met with residents and their families to update them on the situation and have provided a summary of the findings of the technical building survey to residents.”

A Lambeth Council spokesman said: “MTVH and Lambeth Council have come to the difficult conclusion that the safest course of action would be for residents to be supported to move to suitable alternative accommodation until the building has been made safe for them. 

“Residents have been informed of the situation and the reasons for it, and we’ll keep them informed of developments throughout this period.”

Pictured: Residents at 44 Clarence House, Caroline Henry, Louise Ying and Dwayne Holder

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