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Homeless women told to quit Whitechapel’s Hopetown hostel after closure

PUBLISHED: 18:08 13 September 2017

Tower Hamlets councillor Rabina Khan with four women who have to leave Hopetown hostel in Whitechapel when it closes down. Picture: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets councillor Rabina Khan with four women who have to leave Hopetown hostel in Whitechapel when it closes down. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

More than 100 homeless women are being told to quit their hostel shelter in Whitechapel which is being closed by the end of the year.

Cllr Rabina Khan fighting to get the homeless women housed. Picture: Mike BrookeCllr Rabina Khan fighting to get the homeless women housed. Picture: Mike Brooke

Many have already been forced to leave London or face eviction, with some sent as far as Gillingham and Dartford in Kent.

The revelations come after details emerged about Tower Hamlets Council having to fork out almost £136 million over the past five years to put the homeless up in hostels and B&B. It has spent more than £29m in the last year alone.

There were 2,114 households in temporary accommodation between January and March, according to Freedom of Information figures obtained by the East London Advertiser’s investigations unit.

The council claimed last week that it had brought the number of families in B&B above the legal limit down to just three, from 174 in 2015 when Labour inherited “shamefully the worst borough” under the discredited Tower Hamlets First administration.

But the People’s Alliance, one of two groups left over from the former administration, is furious over Whitechapel’s Hopetown hostel being closed by December.

“Many women who fled violent partners with their children are being moved out to appalling conditions miles from east London,” Alliance group leader Rabina Khan tells tomorrow’s Advertiser.

“One woman was sent to Gillingham with her seven-year-old daughter without means of support. She has no money and had been living on bread and chips—but we got her back.”

Other women have been moved to Romford, Dartford, Heathrow and Enfield.

Manuela Aleo who had to leave Hopetown women's hostel. Picture: Dieter PerryManuela Aleo who had to leave Hopetown women's hostel. Picture: Dieter Perry

Former fashion buyer Manuela Aleo sheltered at the hostel after her life spiralled due to domestic abuse, but had to leave soon after and was moved to a mixed hostel in Hackney where she felt unsafe.

She warns: “You should place women where they at least have support. There was support at Hopetown—people talking to you which makes a real difference.”

The women sent a petition to Labour’s Mayor John Biggs about the hostel after receiving letters telling them they had to leave.

The Mayor has brought in a programme where the women are assessed for their housing status.

Most are not legally entitled to be rehoused by the authority with the public purse, he pointed out. Instead, they are referred to the private rental sector.

But he acknowledges private rents have rocketed in the East End—so the women are having to be sent further out.

The Hopetown hostel opened in 2007, now run by a management company, is being handed back to the Salvation Army in December to house the homeless from its Booth House hostel in Whitechapel Road which is also closing.

The “eviction” issue is being raised at Tower Hamlets Council’s meeting later this month in a call for a better deal for “the women with little hope” who have to quit Hopetown.

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