Marooned on the M1! Homeless families put up in motorway services

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Homeless Luton families are being put up in a hotel on motorway services because of a shortage of accommodation in the borough.

One young disabled couple moved into the Travelodge at Toddington Services on the M1 on Tuesday after being made homeless.

And Janet Paddison, aged 23, says she was told by the hotel that there are other families there, including one with four children who have been there for five months.

Janet, her partner Rhys, and her four-year-old daughter have been homeless since being evicted from private rented accommodation this week after their landlord decided they wanted to sell the property.

But despite knowing for almost a year that they had to find somewhere else to live, the couple have been unable to find anything in the private sector which would accept housing benefit and her assistance dog.

And Janet says despite Luton Borough Council knowing her situation, it has only been able to offer her a room in a bed and breakfast which when they turned up late on Monday was too small for the three of them.

The couple, Janet suffers from fibromalgia, and Rhys from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, cannot drive, which means they are now marooned at the services.

Her assistance dog has had to be put in kennels.

Breakfast is provided but there are no cooking or clothes washing facilities and the only food available is at inflated service station prices.

“I’ve had a really bad experience with the council,” she said. “It feels like some of my human rights have been violated.

“We don’t know what we can do, no-one seems to care.”

Janet says she has not been told how long she will be at the services and she is concerned that if they have nowhere locally by September her daughter will not be able to take up her new place at primary school.

“I don’t know what we can do,” she says. “No-one seems to care.”

In a statement Luton Borough Council said: “Luton continues to experience a severe shortage of both permanent and temporary housing for various reasons including a residential rental market which is considered to be overheated with private landlords demanding rent levels which cannot be covered in full by Housing Benefit due to legislative restrictions, competition from London authorities reducing the affordable private stock available to local residents as well as increasing number of landlords deciding to sell up making existing households obliged to seek alternate accommodation. In addition we have also lost housing stock through the right to buy which disproportionately impacts upon the supply of family sized homes.

“The Council is working hard to address the supply and demand problem through a number of measures including its New Homes for Luton programme, refurbishing town centre office blocks and derelict garage sites, bringing empty homes back into use, and also preventative work aimed at helping families before they require emergency assistance.

“We are statutorily obliged to provide accommodation to certain classes of applicants who approach the authority as homeless , however due to the shortage of accommodation available in the town we simply are not in a position to offer any reassurances or any guarantee that we can secure temporary accommodation which will enable a household residing as one family with an animal, separate sleeping rooms or rooms for the animal. Nor can we guarantee that the temporary accommodation will be in Luton or close to other family members. Our priority is to secure accommodation which prevents a crisis for the imminently homeless family.”