Widow who worked through pandemic claims council “forcing” her into homelessness

A 57-year-old widow who worked through the pandemic says she is being forced into homelessness by a council.

Joanne Howell, 57, was housed in temporary accommodation in Englands Lane, Camden, by Southwark council in May.

She said the council has now told her she must leave the property because she is not “needy enough” for social housing.

Ms Howell, who works in New Cross bus garage, said: “I worked all through the pandemic ‘keeping London moving’ and now I need help there is no one to help me.

“I have always catered for myself, I’ve never needed to rely on the council until now.

“I’ve had to take time off work because this is causing me so much stress.”

Ms Howell, had previously lived with her husband in Evan Cook Close, Peckham, but when he died in August 2020, his family inherited the house and Ms Howell moved to a private rental property.

Then in January 2023 her private rental was sold to a family and Ms Howell was forced to live in her car for four months until she was moved into the temporary accommodation in Camden by Southwark council.

She said: “Sometimes I start work at four in the morning and finish at two in the morning, it’s hard.

“The council told me I have to leave the property this week, if I do then I’ll have to move back into my car.

“I’ve told them I can’t move until I have somewhere else to go, right now I have nowhere.”

Ms Howell said she cannot live with her family because they are already overcrowded – her  daughter lives in a three bedroomed house with four kids and her son lives in a four bedroomed house with five kids.

She said: “The council keeps telling me I don’t qualify, and I’m not needy enough but my credit cards are maxed out and I’m in my overdraft – I can’t pay rent if I have to go private.

“The council is putting me on the street.”

Southwark council has been approached for comment.

Pictured top: Joanne Howell (Picture: Joanne Howell)

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