Walthamstow single mum’s four-year ordeal in mouldy temporary accommodation

A Walthamstow mother who has lived in mouldy temporary accommodation for four years says she is “fed up”.

Single mother Tracy Olonade and her five children are suffering with an increasingly severe mould problem in their home, which is spreading through the bedrooms and living room.

Tracy claims she and her family’s mental and physical health have also been tested by a series of other issues with the house including leaks, a ceiling collapse and dangerous electrical faults.

When asked how she is coping, she said: “I’m fed up – put it that way.

“I’ve had a lot going on, I’ve been in and out of hospital […] in the space of months.

“My son has also had health issues. I don’t know how to explain it, for them to not be totally affected, I’m just trying to keep it positive for them.”

Tracy told the Local Democracy Reporting Service her family was placed by Waltham Forest Council in emergency housing in Edmonton Green four years ago, after her landlord sold the property she previously lived in.

But the size of the bedrooms means her children have to sleep close to the mouldy walls, with her boys’ room also affected by draughts. Tracy said: “The boiler is in the bedroom because it’s a bathroom conversion, they’ve made a makeshift ventilation hole with a plastic vent on top, the draught is constantly coming in.

“It’s been an issue that has been there since before I moved in, I make sure to ventilate the rooms, but it’s just deteriorating and spreading even more.”

When the family were first declared homeless they were moved into a hostel in Leytonstone for a month, which Tracy said was “unsuitable” for families.

The council tried to relocate her 200 miles away in Blackpool, but backtracked after Tracy appealed to Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy for help on the basis that she was pregnant and wanted to stay near her support network in Walthamstow.

Tracy said: “I’ve been here [London] all my life and so have my children, I don’t have a big network, the little network I have I thoroughly rely on.

“To take me out like that would be too much pressure.”

For now, Tracy is unlikely to be moved out of her temporary accommodation in Edmonton because Waltham Forest Council’s housing officer considers her to be “adequately housed”.

Ahsan Khan, deputy leader and cabinet member for housing and regeneration, said the council takes concerns about temporary accommodation seriously and a ventilation system will be installed at the property to address the mould.

He added: “We will continue to actively assist the family to secure settled, long-term accommodation.”

On hearing about the offer to install a ventilation system, Tracy said: “That’s news to me”.

Waltham Forest households currently spend an average of 2.8 years in temporary accommodation before moving on.

Cllr Khan commented: “The best thing we can do to help tackle this issue in Waltham Forest is to build more homes – especially social rent and London rent homes that are genuinely achievable for our young people.

“There are already over 1,000 council homes either being built or that have planning committee approval in the borough.

“However, we and all local authorities need more help from the government to help us build suitable homes to keep families, friendship groups, and support networks together.”

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter