A mother of four from Croydon has described her anguish after living for years in cramped emergency accommodation in Croydon only to be asked to move into another council house that she found to be in a state of disrepair.

Flavia James has lived for two years with her husband and four children in a two-bedroom house on Brighton Road in Purley.

She moved there with the family after it was offered to them by the council as emergency accommodation on April 9, 2019.

Two years' later, the emergency accommodation period has ended and the council recently asked the family to move into a new property in Norbury that Flavia said she was "shocked" to find rundown and ultimately unacceptable for her and the family of six.

"I was shocked when I saw the new place. After the council being in the media recently you would have thought they would maybe do something better but they do not learn.

"How can you put a family in these kinds of places with these conditions?" Flavia said in conversation with the Croydon Guardian, referencing similar reports of bad conditions in council properties in Croydon that made national news recently.

Your Local Guardian: Image: Flavia JamesImage: Flavia James

Since those reports surfaced earlier this year, Croydon Council, who "effectively declared bankruptcy" in November 2020, said they were working to immediately address the problem and rehoused a number of council house residents impacted.

Yet Flavia's case suggested there is still a long way to go before council housing conditions are improved across the board in Croydon.

The mum of two said she suffered from depression, anxiety and a lack of sleep after spending two years in such cramped conditions with her family of six.

"We've been waiting here for two long years. I've been sharing the room with my girls and the boys share with their dad. That's what they came up with. Now they are forcing us to come out.

"I am depressed. Right now my GP gave me medication because I am not sleeping, I'm very tearful at the moment. Literally stressed out and I feel like I can't go on any more.

"The relationship with my husband broke down because of how difficult our living situation has been with the two rooms... we can't have any quality time because he is in the other room with the boys," she said.

Your Local Guardian: Image: Flavia JamesImage: Flavia James

The Croydon Guardian approached Croydon Council about Flavia's case.

A spokesperson for the council sent a statement in response that referenced the UK's ongoing housing crisis and suggested the council were looking into a finding an alternative property for the family:

The spokesperson said:

"Across London, including in Croydon, demand for long-term temporary housing is much greater than the supply councils can offer.

"Nevertheless, we do our best to find good-quality properties for our residents based on their need, especially for people moving from emergency accommodation into something longer-term.

"After listening to this resident’s concerns about a Norbury property offered through an external provider, we have begun looking for an alternative home that better meets her wishes, and we will keep her updated on our progress."

For Flavia and her family, for now at least, the wait goes on for a suitable place to live.

"I'm really suffering. My depression is getting worse. I'm feeling very anxious with everything that is happening."