Hostel families ‘forced to choose between clean clothes or meals’
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
Camden Council has refused to install laundry facilities at a temporary accommodation block for families with residents complaining that some of them were being forced to spend £30-a-week on laundry.
Until five years ago, there was a laundry room in the England’s Lane Hostel, in Belsize Park, which Camden Council has run as a temporary accommodation block since 2004.
When the council closed the laundry room, it told residents it was due to their bad treatment of the facilities.
Families in the building now have to use a local laundrette which they say they cannot afford.
While in England’s Lane they are expected to become financially independent.
Mother-of-two Vera Perez, said she was forced to choose between washing her children’s clothes or giving them proper meals.
“If you have a child who is poorly, and is throwing up every day, then you don’t have a choice. You have to wash their clothes. So if you’re doing that a few times in a week, it can be as much as £30,” she said.
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She believes she deserves a better service for what she pays in temporary accommodation. “It’s a need, not a luxury. We pay a service charge, as well as our rent and council tax. We should be getting these facilities. We have offered to draw up a rota for cleaning the room and making sure it is used properly.”
The 44-year-old, who has lived at England’s Lane since April 2014 said it also affects her health. “I can’t dry clothes in my room, it isn’t big enough or has good enough ventilation to do so, and it affects my asthma.”
A charity currently provides a free laundry service at Camden Council’s other family hostel, Levine and Abbotts. There is a free council laundry room at Belmont Hostel, where residents share all facilities.
Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Better Homes said: “The laundry was in the building when we took up its lease in 2004, and while we attempted to keep it running for a number of years, unfortunately, it was not fit for purpose, with 150 households attempting to use the room with six washing machines and six driers. Camden Council is not obliged to provide a laundry service at the hostel and following incidents of anti-social behaviour and vandalism, regretfully took the decision to close the room.”