A woman with stage 4 cancer has said she would rather be made homeless than accept a ‘rubbish’ council house.
Liz Kovacs, who is suffering from severe mobility issues due to bone cancer, says Ealing Council has repeatedly offered her unsuitable, dirty or poorly maintained homes.
“Rats, mould, asbestos,” Ms Kovacs told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), “every day for three and a half years, every day [the council] has stressed me.” Previously, Ms Kovacs had detailed how she felt the council had ‘forced’ her to accept a home in Hanwell against the advice of an occupational therapist who assessed it as unsuitable for her needs.
She took a video of the inside of the property which she said showed signs of damp and rotting floorboards. She also showed LDRS an asbestos report of the property which shows that it was present at low levels.
Ms Kovacs says it is evidence of the standard of property the council is offering her, while the council have strongly refuted the insinuation that they would knowingly put a resident in a property that would cause health risks.
Furthermore, it says that Ms Kovacs was shown a void property, which is still set to be renovated, with any dangerous asbestos being removed before she would have been moved into the property. After a review of its suitability, the Hanwell property offer was withdrawn by the council because it didn’t have level access internally and there is not enough space to manoeuvre a wheelchair – something Ms Kovacs increasingly requires.
She was then offered another property, this time a bungalow in Southall. Ms Kovacs took photos showing huge piles of rubbish stacked up in the courtyard in front of her windows.
The property also lacked a bath, something that Ms Kovacs says is crucial for her pain management. She added: “I need a bath for my back, it helps me feel better, I take them three times a day.”
Although frail, Ms Kovacs seemed furious with the council because of the offer. “Why do they offer me this s***?!” she asked, “it’s rubbish.”
“They say if I don’t take it I will be homeless, I tell you, I would rather be homeless than live there.”
The Ealing resident currently lives in the condemned housing block Jerome Tower in Acton where LDRS spoke to her about her housing situation a few months ago. Since then Ms Kovacs’ condition has continued to worsen increasingly affecting her mobility and requiring her to have more hospital visits.
The decision was made by the council to withdraw the Southall property because it was deemed to be too far from Ealing Hospital. The council also made it clear that the piles of rubbish outside the property would have been removed before Ms Kovacs moved in had she accepted the offer.
The tiring process of fighting for a place to live has left the terminally ill woman exhausted. Speaking to LDRS about her current situation, Ms Kovacs says she wants the council to ‘leave me alone’.
She added: “I can’t move [house] this year, I’m too ill, it’s too cold, I can barely physically move. “I don’t have money to move, I can’t afford to pay for removal [services].”
Ms Kovacs says since she rejected the last place the council have offered her another place in Acton, but she says she is too exhausted to view it and it doesn’t have key features she needs. She said: “They are not listening, I have told them I need a bath, but everywhere they offer me doesn’t have one.”
Despite her fears, the council have said that Ms Kovacs will not be made homeless. However, her hopes of being able to remain in Jerome Tower until next year seems unlikely with the council aiming to rehouse or remove all the remaining tenants by November.
The council say that have made rehousing Ms Kovacs a top priority. A council spokesman said: “Throughout, we have been sympathetic to the very difficult circumstances Mrs Kovacs is facing, and our housing team has worked diligently to rehouse Ms Kovacs and her son. Given the seriousness of her medical situation, Ms Kovacs is in our top priority band for a council home.
“The situation is ongoing, and we appreciate that Mrs Kovacs’ significant medical needs mean she has to live in a specific geographic area and requires a particular type of home, which is not commonly available.
“We will continue to urgently search for a suitable home that meets her housing needs.”
Ms Kovacs has a gofundme page. You can donate by clicking here.