Heavily pregnant mum weeks from giving birth trapped in hellish Croydon flat so small kids have to eat on floor

A heavily pregnant mum who is just weeks away from giving birth says she made multiple calls for help regarding her housing disrepair and overcrowding before being taken seriously by Croydon Council. Latasha Smith and her two children have been living in temporary accommodation through the council for almost two years.

The 34-year-old is due to give birth in a matter of weeks but says the stress brought on by her living situation is taking a toll on her mental and physical health. She cries in her bathroom most days and has gone to therapy but living in a cramped up one-bed studio flat continues to make her and her children’s lives miserable.

The flat is so overcrowded, her and her children have no choice but to eat on the floor as there is no space for a proper table. Her youngest daughter, aged two, cannot play while her eldest daughter, 14, is unable to find a quiet corner in the flat to revise for her GCSEs. After MyLondon first contacted the council on Thursday (May 26) it was confirmed on Friday (May 27) the family will be rehomed.

READ MORE:Family of 4 living in studio flat for 5 years can FINALLY get new home after council blamed them for overcrowding

The mould continues to grow back no matter how regularly Latasha tries to clean it

Latasha, a former prison officer and carer, has to regularly clean toxic black mould from the windows however it keeps growing back. She says her windows are unable to open properly, which makes it difficult to ventilate the one room they share. While the mum was in the toilet, she was horrified to find her toddler playing with the black mould on the windowsill. She presumes her daughter was mimicking her having to religiously clean the mould away.

Latasha told MyLondon: “I sit down daily and breakdown, I try to be strong again and say, ‘right let’s get out’, but it’s not easy. There’s no space to do anything. This is no way for a single mother to watch their children go through this kind of stuff, my daughter cries and says, ‘mum, when are we getting out of here?’

Latasha and her two daughters (pictured here is her two-year-old) all sleep in the same room

Latasha and her two daughters (pictured here is her two-year-old) all sleep in the same room

“It’s not fair for my youngest, she can’t even explore in her own environment, there’s no space for her to explore. Croydon Council put me here and that was it. They put me here and forgot all about me.” Emails which have been seen by MyLondon show Latasha has contacted the council more than once voicing her concerns with the temporary accommodation.

However, Latasha says she has received little to no help and was ‘blanked’ by the council on one occasion after she told them in January that she was pregnant and could not continue to live there.

The email read: “I’m having some issues with the room now and myself and my two children’s health is a risk, also I’m worried because I’m pregnant too. There is mould growing in the room on the windows, bathroom and myself and children are sleeping next to the windows because that’s where the bed is and (there is) nowhere else to move it too.

“My two-year-old daughter is reaching the cooker, hot plates, knives in the draw, she’s turning on the microwave and putting things inside of it. I worry about her safety as she’s at the age where she’s exploring and has no room to do so.”

She said: “I don’t know where they expect me to put my baby, they are aware – I told them when I was pregnant, but they blanked me. No one replied to me, no one answered me. I don’t have anyone else, so when I’m trying and keep getting dragged down it makes my job harder as a mother to my girls – it’s not fair.”

Mum-of-two Latasha has to store a majority of her food on the floor because there is no room in her fridge

Latasha has to store a majority of her food on the floor because there is no room in her fridge

Elsewhere in the bathroom, Latasha has not had a working shower for eight weeks. For the eight weeks, she has had to rely on using her neighbour’s shower with her teenage daughter while her two-year-old is washed in a small bucket of water.

Her cooking hob only has one working hob ring due to a previous leak within the ceiling that has damaged the electrics. While she says she is too scared to use the oven because it is faulty and smells of smoke every time she uses it.

There is nowhere to store all of the food for the family, while only one hob ring works

There is nowhere to store all of the food for the family, while only one hob ring works

Latasha says she wishes she could cook healthy food for her children from scratch but has to provide them with takeaways or ready meals instead because it is the only option. She added: “Am I asking for too much? A running shower so I can wash my children? A cooker to cook so we can eat and space to eat where we can have a table? Basic stuff, just basic stuff we’re asking for. I’m not even asking for luxury stuff.”

The family stores their food in the oven when it is not in use to save on space, though Latasha often has to put food on the floor because there is no room in her cupboards or fridge. Fruit and rice she cooks tents to go off the next day because the room is so hot from lack of ventilation, she explains.

Latasha's flat is so small it makes it impossible for her to store anything in cupboards so a lot of it is left out on the floor

Latasha’s flat is so small it makes it impossible for her to store anything in cupboards so a lot of it is left out on the floor

Despite sending multiple emails to the council, Latasha and her family are still living in the temporary accommodation provided by the council. Human Rights Watch, an independent, non-governmental human rights organisation that operates in over 90 countries, recently wrote a letter to councillor Lynne Hale and Croydon Mayor Jason Perry demanding she be moved into more suitable accommodation as soon as possible.

The family’s current living arrangements disrupt her children’s right to play and a right to education, the letter penned. “I would hate to know another mother is somewhere crying daily and going through this – there’s no space here, all I’m asking for is to not make my daily life so difficult and miserable,” Latasha said.

Latasha and her kids have to eat on the floor because there is no room for a table and chairs

Latasha and her kids have to eat on the floor because there is no room for a table and chairs

A Croydon Council spokesperson said: “Our team has found a new home for this family [on Friday, May 27] and the family will now be relocated as soon as possible. We sincerely apologise that they have not felt supported in their home and recognise that, in light of national housing demand, families are sometimes left in temporary situations for far too long.

“It is unacceptable that we have left them feeling ignored. The Council is committed to making sure all our residents and families are treated with respect and empathy when dealing our services.”

Are you a Londoner who is experiencing housing problems in your borough? Get in touch with Ruby by writing to her at ruby.gregory@reachplc.com

For the latest news from across the capital, head to our homepage.

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