Grenfell Tower residents ‘living in hotels’

Two months after the fire, up to 200 residents have not secured permanent accommodation.

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Kensington and Chelsea Council said the vast majority of those who escaped the blaze, 158 households, about 200 people, remain in hotels, while no one has yet secured permanent accommodation.

One resident spoke of the frustration the survivors are experiencing, with the council offering accommodation either too far away, or in a poor state of repair.

Nicholas Burton, a leaseholder who was one of the last to escape the inferno with his wife, said:

“I could have put up every single family in 48 hours if you just go to the private sector. There are hundreds of flats in the estate agents but they don’t want to pay the money,” the former 19th floor resident said.

“But they are paying the money because my five weeks in my hotel cost £12,990. I have the bill. They gave it to me by mistake.

“I had to go and get private accommodation because my wife is still in hospital and they will not give her to me unless we have a place to live.

“I am sure one or two other families have decided they cannot wait any more. Those with children have September coming shortly and they are going back to school – they do not want a hotel room.”

The 50-year-old said his lease stated that the council’s insurance would have to cover any rent in the event of his flat becoming uninhabitable.

While all of those forced to leave the 24-storey block and nearby Grenfell Walk have since been offered temporary accommodation, only 23 families have been rehoused, while 22 others have accepted offers.

A council spokesman said in many of these cases, residents “have the option to convert to permanent housing if they would like to”.

Homelessness charity Shelter, which has been working with survivors of the tragedy, said many people were staying in hotels because they were reluctant to move twice.

Head of policy and research Kate Webb said: “I think a lot of people are not ready to think about moving into temporary accommodation – they want time to grieve and they want a permanent home.”

Pointing to a previous suggestion by the government that more than 60 luxury apartments in Kensington would be offered as permanent accommodation from July, she added: “I think it is disappointing that the homes weren’t made available quite as quickly as people were told they would be.”

A spokesman for the council said: “It will take a long time for offers to be accepted because of the highly emotional state of those we need to house and the complexity of their needs.

“It is a painstaking process and one that requires understanding of families traumatised by the fire.”

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