Mum forced to live in car after council evicted her for refusing move to new town

A disabled mum and her daughter are sleeping in their car – after refusing to accept a council’s offer of housing.

Pauline Roye, 62, and her daughter Nashstacia Gayle, 28, were kicked out of their house by a council on September 23.

Ms Roye had told Lewisham London Borough Council her house had mouldy bedrooms, which caused her breathing problems and meant she had to sleep on a mattress in the kitchen, reports MyLondon. 

The authority, a Labour stronghold, subsequently gave her the option of moving into a temporary house in Ilford, east London – an hour away from the borough on public transport.

However, Ms Roye, who is awaiting a knee replacement and can’t walk without assistance, rejected the offer because she would struggle to reach hospital appointments in south London. The council disagreed and said that as Ms Roye had refused “a reasonable offer of interim temporary accommodation” it no longer had a responsibility to house her.

Lewisham Council is now reviewing Ms Roye’s case and is looking to make her a new offer of temporary accommodation. But until it makes a decision, she and her daughter are left not knowing where they will be sleeping every night.

Ms Roye, who has lived in Lewisham, southeast London, for more than 20 years, said: “I don’t know where I am from one day to the next. It’s not a way to live. If we don’t find a place tonight then we’re going to have to sleep in the car in Lewisham Shopping Centre car park.

“They [Lewisham] say I can travel 90 minutes for an appointment at the hospital, but I can’t take a bus or train. I have to take patient transport. I can’t walk without assistance. I’m just asking for them to look at my health.”

Ms Roye and Nashstacia moved into the temporary house near Lewisham after their previous landlord evicted them. Ms Roye fell behind on rent payments during the pandemic when she was forced to close her Jamaican street food stall at Lower Marsh market in Waterloo, central London.

Over the months that followed her health deteriorated and by the time lockdown restrictions were easing, Ms Roye was unable to work due to inflammatory arthritis in her knee. Her daughter paid what she could, but she only worked part-time hours at the time and the family fell further into arrears.

When Lewisham Council said they could move into the temporary house in Catford on September 14, they were thankful. But their relief soon turned to horror as they discovered the state of the property.

Ms Roye said: “There was mould everywhere. They had painted over it but we couldn’t breathe in the bedrooms. It was like being in a drain. I caught a cough.

“We ended up having to drag a mattress into the kitchen and sleep there because it was the only place we could breathe. The freezer didn’t work and it defrosted, ruining all our food in the fridge. There was a step up to the front door which I couldn’t do without help.”

Ms Roye turned to the council staff for help and they offered her the flat over an hour away in Ilford, which she explained wasn’t suitable. But council staff weren’t sympathetic. In one email exchange, a staff member accused Ms Roye of “bombarding” the council with emails after she complained about the accommodation offered.

A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “We have been reviewing Ms Roye’s case and will be looking to make her a new offer of temporary accommodation, in line with our Location Priority Policy.” We expect all members of staff to be polite and professional when supporting residents with their housing needs and are investigating the comments made towards Ms Roye.”

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