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Finsbury mum made homeless by housing association blunder

Mother-of-two was made to sleep in a homeless shelter with her children

07 July, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Gemma Connelly with her two sons Jesse, 14, and Michael. 11 months 

A MOTHER was left distraught after being forced to sleep in a homeless hostel when a house swap went wrong last week.

Gemma Connelly, along with her 11-month-old baby and her 14-year-son, were forced out of their Finsbury flat managed by housing association Notting Hill Housing last Thursday and had to sleep in an emergency shelter in Hornsey Road.

Ms Connelly, 35, was down to swap her Goswell Road flat for another flat in Watford to be closer to friends as part of a three-person house swap overseen by each tenant’s housing association.

She was told by her housing officer at Notting Hill Housing that because of an electrical fault in her new flat, she would not be able to move into her new Watford Community Housing Trust property immediately.

“I did the swap in good faith but I’ve been left homeless. The hostel was awful, horrible,” she said. “My 14-year-old was heartbroken, he stayed strong all day but when he got to the hostel he really cried and it was horrible to see.”

She said Notting Hill Housing have failed her.

“I call them and they tell me: ‘You’re not my tenant anymore, you need to stop phoning us.’ It’s changed my perception of how I see people, I usually trust people. It really hurt me, ” she said.

“Watford Community Housing Trust said I have to wait until next week to get the electrics fixed because the electrician is on annual leave,” she added.

The Town Hall found Ms Connelly and her children temporary accommodation for the weekend in Bedfordshire but she was unable to get in contact with the housing team on Monday and Tuesday so had to borrow money to stay in a bed and breakfast hotel. She was given temporary accommodation in Canning Town on Wednesday.

A spokesman from Notting Hill Housing said they were working with Watford Community Housing Trust to support Ms Connelly. “The resident took part in a three-way mutual exchange and once the paperwork was signed, ceased to be a Notting Hill Housing tenant,” he said.

A spokesman for Watford Community Housing Trust said their priority was the safety and wellbeing of their residents.

He said: “We would only authorise any potential new tenant to take occupancy of their new home once it meets the required standards and is safe for them to live in.”

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