Council ‘ignoring’ homeless family holed up in hotels for four months

Edmonton MP Kate Osamor slams council over treatment of pregnant disabled mother, her husband and their toddler who has nowhere to play, reports James Cracknell

Reza Ramazani, his wife Elnaz and their two-year-old daughter Artemis are stuck in a hotel on the A10
Reza Ramazani, his wife Elnaz and their two-year-old daughter Artemis are stuck in a hotel on the A10

A homeless family-of-three – including a pregnant mother left disabled from a car accident – have been forced by Enfield Council to live in hotel rooms for four months.

Reza Ramazani, his wife Elnaz and their two-year-old daughter Artemis have been holed up at Enfield Travelodge for two months having previously been sent to live at two other hotels in Hertfordshire, after first declaring themselves homeless last November.

The family have been confined to living in one room and have not been able to cook a single meal for themselves, instead eating fast food every night. The length of their stay in hotels is now nearly three times the legal limit.

Reza told the Dispatch they feel the council has “ignored” their plight and that a caseworker even told them they were “lucky” to have a hotel room instead of sleeping on the street. He said: “Life has become very difficult for us, we are stuck.”

Reza, Elnaz and Artemis were previously living in Edmonton but became homeless after falling out with family members they had been staying with. Reza is a British citizen while Elnaz is Iranian and arrived in the UK with Artemis on a family visa last year – Iran is currently undergoing a period of civil unrest, with the government violently suppressing a series of women’s rights protests.

Reza had been working as a lorry driver but is now a full-time carer for Elnaz, who was left with multiple permanent injuries after a car crash in 2021. It means she is unable to walk unassisted – needing help with basic daily tasks.

Elnaz is due to give birth in June. Reza said: “I need to help her shower and go to the toilet, I am a carer for her at the moment.

“For a pregnant woman it is not good to be having fast food everyday. We can’t cook here and we can’t afford to go to a restaurant.”

Enfield Travelodge
Enfield Travelodge

Enfield Travelodge is beside the A10 dual carriageway and is surrounded by large retail outlets and industrial units, with no nearby green spaces or playgrounds for Artemis to play. Reza is unable to leave Elnaz alone for long because of her disability and it means the family spend the vast majority of their day in their small hotel room.

“Our life has become very hard,” said Reza. “She [Elnaz] is crying and screaming in pain, she cries every day.

“My daughter has nowhere to play. There is no playground, there is nothing, and I have to stay close in case she [Elnaz] needs help.”

Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation for families declaring homelessness. When no properties are available, councils will often resort to using hotels, but the legal limit for placing families in this type of ‘bed and breakfast’ (B&B) accommodation is six weeks.

As of Wednesday (8th) the Ramazani family have been living in hotels for more than 15 weeks. Reza said: “She [Elnaz] wants to cook her own food and it has been four months since we have been able to cook a meal. She is depressed.

“Life is very hard. Sometimes I cry because I don’t know what to do. We just need somewhere to live so we can cook and we can have space.”

Edmonton MP Kate Osamor has slammed the council for not doing more to assist the family. She said: “Nobody should be treated the way Reza and Elnaz have been treated by Enfield Council. But they are not alone. I’m contacted every week by vulnerable homeless families who’ve been left in hotel rooms by Enfield Council.

“Housing is a human right, families who approach the council looking to exercise that right deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

“When I speak to my constituents who have been placed in B&B accommodation many of them tell me they’ve been given no information about what will happen next, no help finding suitable accommodation and, in some instances their booking is stopped, and they are left homeless again without warning.

“This is not an acceptable way to treat our most vulnerable residents. Enfield Council needs to do better.”

Update (4.30pm, 8th March):

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “We are currently working with the Ramazani family to move them into suitable accommodation, but Enfield and London face an acute housing crisis.

“Housing demand exceeds supply, and the private rented sector has effectively collapsed since the pandemic and recent interest rate rise. Across London, there has been a 120% increase in temporary accommodation landlords requesting their properties be returned, and an 80% drop in supply in Enfield.

“We understand this is no consolation to the Ramazani family, and we are doing all we can to support them to find suitable alternative accommodation and are urgently reviewing their current circumstances.”

Update (10th March):

The Ramazani family have now been offered new temporary accommodation at a ground-floor flat in Tottenham.

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