This is from a supporter of state housing

Just after midnight that morning, the ceiling had collapsed in one woman’s bedroom: mercifully, she was visiting friends that night. The fact she has a condition that puts her at high risk of a heart attack doesn’t bear thinking about. For two weeks prior in the refuge, the sprinkler system had been leaking heavily: the women showed me the flooding they endured – ankle deep in some bedrooms, and wallpaper bulging with stale water.

Finally, the leak caused the ceiling to fall in. They rang the fire brigade and the housing association that owns the house and the charity that runs the shelter service. When the emergency services arrived, a firefighter told them that if anyone turned on the power, the entire building would go up in flames. Removing a plug from the wall, he swore as water poured from the socket. They were left with torches and barely managed to sleep: seven women, and six children between the ages of two and seven, crowded into the communal living room.

Their children are in play schemes in west London, where they’re building confidence after fleeing abuse and violence
Then matters worsened. The women were phoned individually by the housing association and told they’d be put in temporary accommodation – with no guarantee of when they would return – in Barking, 15 miles away:

God knows how an opponent of state housing would phrase it all.

32 thoughts on “This is from a supporter of state housing”

  1. ‘Speak multiple languages’ = ‘model citizen’… I doubt we are talking Cambridge-educated linguists here… Clever reframing though.

    One whole HOUR away??? The brutality! A commute! Ok, it’s not ideal but if it’s short term who cares. And if it isn’t, then they can discover that you can actually move your doctor and your playgroup – they exist even on the other side of town.

    They may have a point if they are sent to the proximate area to where their abusers live, but East London is a big place, really depends which bit.

  2. “Their children are in play schemes in west London, where they’re building confidence after fleeing abuse and violence.”

    Seven women. I can accept that one or two of them were taken in by plausible rogues/are cretins, but I suspect the majority of them hooked up with yobs and thugs. The moral of the story isn’t just if you’re in ankle deep water it’s a problem.

  3. What Interested said. I have known a few women who got all giddy over some asshole who should have been avoided, but thought themselves too cool for a conventional guy (or rather, couldn’t moderate her behaviour to get one), and it ended – wholly predictably – in tears. At least none I knew got pregnant.

  4. @ Oblong: Well, yes, but….Barking? *shudders* I wouldn’t keep a dog there.

    What about Gruinard? It’s nice there this time of year…

  5. “One of the mothers was promised that if her husband ever had the opportunity he’d lock her and her son in the house and burn it to the ground.”

    Not, you’ll notice, ‘her and their son’…

  6. “Grenfell Tower should have shocked us into treating people with empathy, compassion and care when they’re homeless or in danger…”

    Oh, it did, love, it did. At first.

    Then we saw what the people housed there were really like.

  7. “For two weeks prior in the refuge, the sprinkler system had been leaking heavily: ”
    But sprinklers = good, right?

  8. “Rather a damning indictment of the third sector, no?”

    The rot started when they started calling themselves “the third sector”. Charity as a career rather than a calling. Government money (and desires and targets to match). An arms race of professional fundraising and marketing. Political charities.

  9. The shelter is run by a charity. Rather a damning indictment of the third sector, no?

    I bet the admins don’t have water leaking from sprinklers in the office.

  10. “For two weeks prior in the refuge, the sprinkler system had been leaking heavily: the women showed me the flooding they endured – ankle deep in some bedrooms, and wallpaper bulging with stale water.”

    So why did no-one do anything for 2 weeks?

  11. For two weeks prior in the refuge, the sprinkler system had been leaking heavily: the women showed me the flooding they endured – ankle deep in some bedrooms, and wallpaper bulging with stale water

    This doesn’t sound right to me. I was involved in the installation of a sprinkler system in a new office (from an IT perspective), and the system is dry until used. Usually a sprinkler system requires a pump to pressurize it, so was that constantly running?

    Also, some bedrooms were ankle deep in water. But not the rest of the apartment? Was the floor 6 inches out of flat?

    It does otherwise sound like a dump, but I question our reporters proximity to the facts.

  12. Also- it sounds like water was coming in for a good long while before the tenants thought to actually tell either the HA or the property owner.

    I suspect the occupants are a bit thick*

    *or in Graun speak: “so traumatised by their experiences prior to joining the shelter, in need of continuous support, which has been cruelly denied them by savage Tory cuts”

  13. Bloke in North Dorset

    “So why did no-one do anything for 2 weeks?”

    Because patriarch or thatcher or austerity or maybe all three?

    Anyway, what is it with those in social housing not being able to move? Millions of families move for work or other reasons and their families, especially children, are ok. Someone need title them that there is life outside their own bubble and often it’s better.

  14. “Also- it sounds like water was coming in for a good long while before the tenants thought to actually tell either the HA or the property owner.”

    Its not uncommon – my parents have houses they rent out, a well to do middle class educated couple didn’t bother to mention that a damp patch formed on the ceiling below every time they used the shower until it got so bad the ceiling collapsed.

    ‘We did notice that, but we thought it might go away…..’

    I think nowadays for many people life is like a sort of black box system – they have no concept of how the stuff around them works, so they have no idea what signs to look for when things are going wrong, until they go wrong catastrophically. And I’m not talking complex electronic equipment, I mean simple basic life stuff like plumbing, sewers, fuse boxes, how a car works, a lawnmower etc. It either works or it doesn’t there is no in between.

  15. Jim, these people also seem to have forgotten how to do running repairs. I’m grateful to my father, uncles and various friends’ fathers for showing me how stuff works and how to fix it when it goes wrong.

  16. Jim, Henry,

    Presumably the tenants who soaked the floor simply didn’t care. They don’t have any “skin in the game”, as Americans like to say.

    These days there are fewer financial consequences from not doing maintenance. Broken toaster? A new one costs £6.50 from Argos. Broken car? The lease contract takes care of that. Rented flat falling apart? Move out and leave the landlord to deal with it.

    Economists consider this specialisation & division of labour to be a good thing.

  17. Social Justice Warrior

    a firefighter told them that if anyone turned on the power, the entire building would go up in flames

    There are no fuses?

  18. “Why did they think it was going to go away?”

    I have no idea. They are very nice people, but live in a sort of bubble of non reality. They would have no idea that a shower requires water supply pipes and waste pipes and that such will exist in the voids of the house, the idea that one of these could be leaking wouldn’t occur to them, and also because they have no idea how pipes work, how they are connected etc, they wouldn’t realise that once something starts leaking it usually gets worse not better. Because in their world a shower is a magic box that has hot water coming out of it by means unknown, I guess they’d consider any problem could also solve itself by means unknown to them.

  19. Jim, I know what you mean.
    When I was working away I let the house to a couple of friends so it would be safe, I thought.
    One of them found a leak in the ceiling, just below the bathroom. Put a bucket under it and didn’t tell anyone until the whole ceiling collapsed. Would have been cheaper to have fixed the leak on day one. Less than £5 on materials + labout, which I would have done myself if I’d been there.

  20. The first time we let our house the tenants were reasonably practical except that they clearly had no idea what a bog brush was for.

  21. Rule 1 – never let anywhere you might want to move back in to.

    Rule 2 – if you can’t manage rule 1, ensure you save enough to have it professionally redecorated before you move back in.

    Alternative to rule 2 – sell it to your mother 🙂

  22. “Raffles

    This doesn’t sound right to me. I was involved in the installation of a sprinkler system in a new office (from an IT perspective), and the system is dry until used. Usually a sprinkler system requires a pump to pressurize it, so was that constantly running?”

    That depends on the system design.

    Lot’s sprinklers over here are simply connected to the normal water mains and are pressurized and left. Knock one sprinkler head off (or, more rarely, have the fusable link melt because of a real fire) and you get an immediate flow of (very, very nasty, dirty, black because its been sitting in the pipes for years) water.

    No delay for the pumps to come online and pressurize the system as its constantly ready-to-go.

  23. Bloke in North Dorset

    “a firefighter told them that if anyone turned on the power, the entire building would go up in flames

    There are no fuses?”

    Pendent alert, that should be ELCBs and they should trip fast enough to stop people paddling around in the water getting fried.

    And I don’t buy he water pouring out of the socket bit. When you pull a plug the holes close, maybe not water tight but I’ll bet not far off, until you plug in again and the earth pin opens them.

  24. Bloke in Costa Rica

    No, BiND, you can easily get water leaking into a pattress. If the cable’s run in conduit (as it should be) and there’s a junction box without a watertight lid (i.e. every junction box ever) then routing water in the electrical system arund the house is not hard to arrange. It won’t even necessarily trip the breaker if it leaks out from the bottom of the face plate faster than it can fill the pattress. None of this stuff is even close to watertight.

  25. “The first time we let our house the tenants were reasonably practical except that they clearly had no idea what a bog brush was for.”

    Stuffing down a TV licence investigators throat.

  26. Bloke in North Dorset

    BiCR,

    I don’t expect the electricity distribution to be water tight. My problem is with it only “pouring” out once the plug is pulled. The individual holes for the pins with close and although some water will leak I don’t believe it “poured” out. That’s beyond journalistic licence.

    Shame I’m away this week otherwise I’d have git a spare socket and tested it.

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