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Harlesden mother with severely disabled son in housing battle with Brent Council

11:31 30 September 2016

Darleen Richards with Harvey  Pic credit: Jonathan Goldberg

Darleen Richards with Harvey Pic credit: Jonathan Goldberg

Jonathan Goldberg

A Harlesden mother has claimed Brent Council are ignoring the needs of her severely disabled baby by refusing to find ‘suitable accommodation’ for them.

Darlena Richards, 25, lives in a first floor flat in Redfern Road with her 13-month-old son Harvey who has an extra chromosome, a heart condition, a cleft palate, severe eczema and an extremely low immune system for which he must take a variety of medication.

She said: “Harvey is really ill. He’s had three seizures in the last month where I had to call an ambulance. I really think Brent Council should house us but they’ve declined my application three times even though they say where we live is ‘not suitable’,”

Ms Richards home, in a converted house, has a walk-in shower and no garden which she said is unsuitable and is affecting Harvey’s well-being.

She said: “Harvey has lotions for his eczema we can’t use in the shower so I have to bathe him in the sink.”

“We really need a garden too as his immune system is so low he’s not allowed to attend nurseries and mix with other children.”

Ms Richards, who works in a betting shop, first went on the housing list as a 16-year old and was regularly bidding until two years ago when she was taken off the register.

Harvey was born a year later and his short life has been taken up with repeated blood transfusions, emergency trips to hospital, and regular has seizures.

Supporting letters from Northwick Park Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital state his living arrangements are “not very suitable for a sick child”.

A spokesman for Brent Council admitted a district medical officer (DMO) acknowledged Ms Richard’s accommodation is “less that ideal” but her application to be rehoused was declined because Harvey ‘can be carried on stairs at that age’ and ‘London ambulance crews are highly experienced in accessing all types of urban accommodation’.

He added: “Like the rest of London, there is a huge shortage of social and affordable accommodation available in Brent, so to be awarded a priority on medical grounds, the person’s current housing must be having a major effect on the applicant’s medical condition.

“Ms Richards’ current accommodation has been judged to be reasonable, so she has not been marked for priority for social housing.

“If she wants to, Ms Richards can ask the DMO to reassess Harvey’s medical needs again next year.”

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