Homeless mum told to move to Telford

Telford, Shropshire
Telford, Shropshire (credit Gordon Cragg)

Report by Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter

A mum who lost her job and became homeless during the pandemic spent weeks sleeping on the floor after Waltham Forest Council tried to house her 150 miles away.

After losing her job in July because of the economic impact of Covid-19, Jana Novakova said she was unable to find a private landlord who would accept rent from a Universal Credit claimant.

She said she asked the council to provide a list of landlords and they eventually responded by offering her a home in Telford, Shropshire, telling her she must move in four days.

Jana and her children, aged eight and ten, were sleeping on a mattress on a friend’s floor for several weeks since becoming homeless at the end of October. The 42-year-old told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I didn’t want to go to the council for help but I had no other choice. I never thought in my entire life I would find myself in this position.

“I was not asking them for a property, I was not asking for anything to be given to me. I was just asking them to help us.

“Uprooting us to Telford doesn’t make sense. We have been local for 14 years, my kids were both born at Whipps Cross and I have got a better chance to find a job here than in Telford.”

Jana has now received a new job but will not start until January and has no savings after spending six years as a single mother. She said that, after she refused to move to Telford, the council agreed to review her case, but this decision is not due until Thursday 24th December.

She added: “I have got nowhere to go and I just feel this is ridiculous. If it wasn’t for my friend, we would have had to sleep in my car.

“I’m articulate and able to go back and forth emailing them but what if you don’t have those skills, are they just leaving women on the street?

“A lot of people have been made redundant because of Covid-19, I just do not want this to happen to anybody else.”

Waltham Forest Council did not respond to requests for comment.