Grim reality of Christmas in a tiny, infested Homerton hostel room for homeless family expecting their second child

PUBLISHED: 13:19 21 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:17 28 December 2017

The family's cramped hostel room.

The family's cramped hostel room.


A couple expecting their second child are spending Christmas in a cramped hostel room where their 15-month-old son sleeps on the floor.

The child's makeshift bed on the floor. The child's makeshift bed on the floor.

The family, who have asked not to be named, are among 3,000 homeless people in Hackney seeing in the new year in temporary accommodation.

They were made homeless in May and placed in a hostel in Homerton. But with no room for a cot, their son is having to sleep on a makeshift bed between the window and a radiator.

Social workers and doctors have told housing chiefs the room poses a significant risk to the growing family and they need to be moved – but the council says it will be three months before it can find them anywhere. The baby is due in January.

“This is the only year that I haven’t looked forward to Christmas and New Year,” said the father. “But hey, I’d rather look on the brighter side and be thankful I’m not on the streets.

The family's room in the hostel serves as bedroom, kitchen and living room for three people - soon to be four. The family's room in the hostel serves as bedroom, kitchen and living room for three people - soon to be four.

“Our room is no bigger than a box room. The tight space makes it a safety hazard for my son as he is just learning how to walk.

“To make things worse the room is heavily infested with mice and the council have done four treatments without success.”

He also said he felt let down by the town hall due to repeated emails and voicemails going unanswered. He said he would have missed the deadline for his successful homeless application appeal had he not pestered officers to send files to his solicitor.

“I’ve been neglected and treated like a second-class citizen,” he added.

The family's room in the hostel. The family's room in the hostel.

There are six other families in the hostel, and hundreds more in the same situation across Hackney. The couple have been told that when they do get a home, it will likely be outside Hackney and could be outside London altogether.

Last month, council officers said this was the grim reality now facing many of Hackney’s homeless families because of the spiralling cost of rents in the borough.

“I’m born and bred in Hackney,” said the father. “I was doing quite well in life. I had my own takeaway business in Rainham [London’s easternmost point] but the house was damp and so we moved to Colchester. But then I was having to travel long hours to work and I got into some debt.

“My wife has really bad anxiety and depression and now my son is sleeping on the floor next to mouse droppings. I’m ashamed.”

Housing chief Cllr Rebecca Rennison said: “We always listen to individual circumstances and have worked closely with [the father] to provide temporary accommodation for his family within Hackney – despite huge increases in demand meaning we now have 3,000 households in temporary accommodation waiting for a permanent home.

“While we are determined to do all we can to support and meet the needs of homeless families as best we can, this is yet another example of London’s unprecedented housing crisis and the national government’s continued failure to tackle this.”

Related articles


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hackney Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hackney Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hackney Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hackney Stories

29 minutes ago

Arsenal legend Robert Pires made a young Arsenal fan with autism’s day when he paid a visit to the club’s award-winning sensory room.

Jordan Nobbs, Danielle Carter and Dominique Janssen from Arsenal Women have been busy celebrating their Continental Cup final trophy victory alongside fans with learning disabilities.

Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup goalscoring hero Tyreece John-Jules is looking forward to an Emirates winner takes all second leg semi-final after the young guns drew 2-2 at Blackpool on Tuesday evening.

It was a good afternoon for Reiss Nelson as the England U19’s beat Hungary 4-1 with the Arsenal starlet grabbing a brace.


Middlesex Women to play historic fixture next month


Front man on form for non-league national team

10 minutes ago

Friends of the man stabbed to death at a St Patrick’s Day party in Homerton have demanded justice for “someone who was truly loved”.


Middlesex paceman James Fuller says his troublesome elbow “hasn’t felt this good for years” as he strives to consign his injury nightmare to history.


To celebrate LGBT history month, Hackney resident Amanda talks about her journey to becoming a foster carer, with the council’s support and training.

Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists