Jennifer Shango, 32, a school nurse living in Islington, said the lack of space “wasn’t much of an issue” when she first moved into Papyrus House with Peabody housing association in 2011, because she only had one child at the time.
But now Jennifer has four children, ages 2, 4, 6, and 10, including one disabled child whose condition requires “a lot of hygiene and personal care,” but is almost impossible to manage in the overcrowded and mouldy flat.
Jennifer claims Peabody housing association, which claims to be one of the oldest and largest in London with over 67,000 homes, has failed to move her family into appropriate housing, despite repeated requests.
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She told MyLondon there have been “issues from day one” of her moving into Papyrus House, including the lift regularly breaking down, but that ” things got really bad from about 2018,” and so far Peabody have failed to act.
However, Peabody have said Jennifer’s family have been given “the highest priority” for a house move, assuring MyLondon they are “committed to finding them a suitable, larger home that meets their needs.”
Jennifer said the flat is in a bad state of disrepair, and she has had to move all four of her children out of their one bedroom and into the living room after stinking water started leaking into their bedroom in early December, pooling on the floor and in the small built-in wardrobe and making the walls damp.
Jennifer said the flow of leaky water in her flat is “so continuous” that the laminate floor tiles are starting to peel and lift off because of the dirty water pooling underneath.
“I don’t feel safe for my kids to be there,” said the struggling mum, who described how frustrated she is with Peabody as she constantly battles with “the mould, the really, really bad smell, and the constant leaking of this dirty water.”
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She added: “I’m fed up to be honest with you. I don’t know what they consider an emergency, for me this is an emergency. I spent the whole Christmas holiday cleaning up, mopping.”
“It’s literally coming out in my children’s room,” she said, adding, “I’ve literally had to remove all of their belongings and everything out of there – the property’s already small as it is, I have nowhere else to put this stuff.”
Jennifer said her son, who is in and out of hospital regularly, needs hygienic and spacious conditions in order to manage his disability, and added, “our housing situation doesn’t help managing the condition.”
She said trying to manage this demand while others in the house also need the bathroom is a incredibly difficult, adding: “It’s really impacted him negatively…. He hasn’t got no privacy, no dignity whatsoever.
“Sometimes he uses the kitchen just to try and get away from his siblings and to have some privacy.”
Jennifer said her stress levels have peaked this winter, describing how she is on anti-depressive medication but adding: “I’ve had days when I feel like I just don’t want to wake up.”
She added: “All of this is too much for one person to deal with. I’m a single mum, I’m trying to make it out here in life. I don’t sit at home on benefits, I work and I try to do my bit and look after my kids and get by with what I have. But I’m so stressed.”
A spokesperson for Peabody housing association said: “We want our residents to feel safe and secure in their homes and we have been working closely with Jennifer to find her a home that is more suitable for her family.
“We have given the family the highest priority for a housing move and are committed to finding them a suitable, larger home that meets their needs. We will continue to support them by working with our partners to offer her housing support and advice.”
They added: “We are fixing the leak which appears to be coming from a flat upstairs and are visiting Jennifer today (January 14) to re-assess the situation.
“We may be able to offer alternative temporary accommodation while we fix the cause of the leak so this has can be resolved as soon as possible.”
MyLondon also reached out to Islington Council, who Jennifer contacted in 2018 to enquire about help with her living situation, but have not heard back.
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