'They can’t expect me to leave my whole life behind' - single mother's anger at being offered home outside borough (From Harrow Times)
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Adriana Goncalves claims Harrow Borough Council's bad advice caused housing problem
A single mother claims she is being forced to choose between leaving the borough and becoming homeless.
Adriana Goncalves, 43, says she and her 14-year-old daughter are being forced to leave the emergency accommodation where they have been living for the past eight months by Harrow Borough Council’s housing department.
The mother and daughter sought help from the council after a dispute with a private landlord left them with nowhere to live.
Ms Goncalves has been offered a council property but has been told it will have to be outside Harrow.
Now she is refusing to take it, saying Harrow is where she has lived for more than ten years and is where her daughter goes to school.
Ms Goncalves said: “What do they expect me to do?
“I have been living here since 2002 – I have a job here and my daughter goes to school here.
“They can’t expect me to leave my whole life behind.”
The 43-year-old has been offered the chance to find private accommodation but has struggled to juggle working part-time, raising her daughter and finding a flat.
Last week she took time off work and found accommodation but as she will be receiving housing benefit the landlord has asked for a guarantor, which she cannot provide.
Ms Goncalves said: “I have no family in this country and no one to lean on so I can’t get a house.
“I’m really worried about what is going to happen to my daughter and me.
“I’m worried about how it’s going to affect her health.”
The single mother claims the council has accused her of making herself intentionally homeless and said it cannot help her for that reason.
But she denies this, blaming her situation on bad advice from the authority’s housing department.
She said: “It was the council that told me to leave my last property and now they are saying I made myself intentionally homeless, but all I did was follow their advice.
“The lady at the council told me not to bother looking for help because nobody is going to help me.”
Councillor Bob Currie, the portfolio holder for housing, said supporting the vulnerable is at the heart of what the council does and it will do everything to help residents falling on hard times.
He said: “Unfortunately it is not always possible to find a home for residents who have chosen to make themselves intentionally homeless.
“We have the lowest council housing stock in London and the average waiting time for a two-bed council flat is five years. “When residents present themselves to the council as homeless our first response is to always look for homes that are currently available within the borough.
“However if we cannot assist them in this way we will search for suitable alternatives in neighbouring boroughs and other areas so residents have a home.”