Exclusive: Hundreds of families in Lambeth have not found permanent accommodation for more than a decade

Almost 1,000 people in Lambeth have been living in temporary accommodation for more than 10 years, new figures reveal.

According to data released under the Freedom of Information (FOI) act, 292 households – the equivalent of 982 people – in Lambeth have been in temporary accommodation for more than a decade.

These figures stand in stark contrast to other South London boroughs. In Croydon 99 households have been in temporary accommodation for more than 10 years and in Lewisham it is just two, according to FOI data.

Manuella Akona, 33, a single mum-of-four of Elderberry Grove, Knights Hill, has lived in temporary accommodation for six years.

Ms Akona and her children, Kyrese, 15, Kayden, four, Keryah, one and Kamayah, seven months, share a single bedroom. 

She said: “My children are sleep deprived. We’re overcrowded and have lived with mould and damp for six years.

“There’s an infestation of mice in the whole building. They eat my baby’s clothes.”

Damp up the walls of Ms Akona’s flat (Picture: Manuella Akona)

Three of Ms Akona’s children have lived in temporary accommodation for their entire childhood.

She said: “I’ve had midwives writing to the council while I was pregnant, now doctors write to them for my mental health.”

Last month, Lambeth council offered Ms Akona a new property in north London. But, after visiting the property she rejected the offer.

She said: “The building had no lift and the flat was up a huge flight of stairs. I have three children in buggies.”

Ms Akona said she was also concerned about being moved into north London – an hour away from her eldest son’s school, in his GCSE year.

Ms Akona said her room is infested with mice which eat her children’s clothes (Picture: Manuella Akona)

She said: “After I raised these fears my housing officer bullied me. They said if I didn’t move I would lose my current home and make my family homeless. I haven’t heard from them since.”

More than 40,000 people are on Lambeth’s waiting list for social housing, according to the council. Every night the local authority provides temporary accommodation for more than 3,000 families.

Figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show £66,596,000 was spent on temporarily housing homeless people in Lambeth last year. Of this, £33,285,000 was covered by the council.

This comes as Jeremy Hunt’s 2024 budget was accused of opting for pre-election tax cuts rather than relieving the pressures that have caused record levels of homelessness across the country.

Those living in temporary accommodation said delays were putting their families in danger and warned that describing such housing as temporary has become, in effect, meaningless.

Another single mother from Lambeth has lived in temporary accommodation for five years with her three-year-old daughter. The 31-year-old woman, who has asked not to be named, was a victim of domestic abuse last year.

Damp in Ms Akona’s flat (Picture: Manuella Akona)

After the incident she contacted Lambeth council requesting for her and her daughter to be moved into a safer property.

She said: “I heard nothing from the council for five months.”

In March, the council offered the mother new temporary accommodation in Kennington.

She said: “I got there and none of the electricity or gas worked, there were squatters and no safety door.

“I stood there in the dark and called the council to tell them I was going home.”

A Lambeth spokesman said: “We do everything we can to find homes for all the people in housing who need help. Due to the housing crisis in Lambeth there is a significant shortage of suitable and affordable housing.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience experienced by these two families. We have been actively looking for alternative accommodation for Ms Akona and have identified a property that we will be offering to her this week.

The other woman’s previous accommodation has been reinstated.”

Pictured top: From left, Kayden, Manuella Akona holding Kamayah and Kyrese holding Keryah (Picture: Manuella Akona)

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