Alperton family with autistic son plead to be rehoused

Rebecca Lowe poses in her house in Brent in west London, Britain 05 July 2022. Facundo Arrizabalaga/

Rebecca Lowe outside her house in Alperton - Credit: Facundo Arrizabalaga

A mother is battling to get her family rehoused as her autistic son is forced to share a room with his brother that is “smaller than a prison cell”.

Rebecca Lowe, 50, lives in a two-bed property in Alperton with her husband, her two sons and her niece, who the family has adopted. 

Her sons, aged 13 and 22, both over six foot tall, sleep on bunk beds in a tiny space that “probably doesn’t qualify as a bedroom”, while her four-year-old niece sleeps in a cot next to her adoptive parents’ bed.

Rebecca said being stuck in the home is “causing a lot of stress” and she is concerned about the impact it is having on her children’s mental health. 

She said she has provided the housing association, Shepherds Bush Housing Group, with evidence from doctors and education professionals that shows her current home doesn’t meet her family’s needs.

Her autistic son “doesn’t have anywhere to do his homework” and she has been advised that he needs his own room to fully thrive. 

He is likely to remain fully dependent on his parents until he is at least 25 years old, and Rebecca said she “cannot wait another 10 to 15 years” to get the issues resolved. 

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Rebecca said: “I’ve got my sons climbing over each other to get into bed each night, there’s nowhere really to put a desk or to keep their clothes. I’ve measured their room and it’s smaller than a prison cell. That can’t be right, can it? It’s got to the point where we’re losing the will to live. The whole process has been horrific.”

Rebecca has spent years applying to be rehoused and has since been moved to a higher priority band but has still had no joy bidding for a move. 

She added: “I was told we’d only be moved if we were considered high risk – that’s either if my children are in a gang or I’m suffering from domestic abuse. Of course these people need support, I know what the situation is like out there and know there are lots of people who need housing. 

“But you can’t ignore everyone else, people who are living with a child with a disability, just tick a box and say ‘sorry, no’. I’ve done everything they’ve asked me to do. All we want is to get a fair crack of the whip, and I don’t think we’ve been given that.”

Local Liberal Democrat councillor Anton Georgiou has raised Rebecca’s case with Brent Council, urging it to look at its own housing lists as this is where she pays her council tax.

He said: “I am appalled that despite all the lengths Rebecca has gone to, to secure a more suitable home, Shepherds Bush Housing and others have simply ignored and kept the family waiting. In my time as a councillor I have seen few housing cases as desperate for resolution as this. 

“The current situation means the Lowe family are struggling on a daily basis and this is all having a huge impact on their collective mental health and well-being.

"It should not take the involvement of a third party, a councillor, the press, to get someone at Shepherds Bush Housing to listen to Rebecca. 

“It is their duty to secure suitable housing for their tenants. The Lowes and others in similar positions deserve so much better and shouldn’t have to be fighting so hard.”

Caroline Moore, people and culture director at Shepherds Bush Housing Group, said: “Miss Lowe was awarded the highest priority we can award in March 2020 for a management transfer.  

"We review our priority transfer list on a regular basis, however alongside Miss Lowe are a number of other households with similar or higher priorities. 

“Unfortunately we do not have any available three-bedroom homes to move Miss Lowe to and we get very few available properties of this size due to the wider housing shortage across London.

"We also have to consider that local authorities have long waiting lists of homeless applicants who will get priority over residents already housed.

“We appreciate this is a very difficult situation, however we do recommend our residents register on Homeswapper to see if they are able to swap their home with someone wishing to downsize or change location.

"We will arrange for Miss Lowe’s customer relationship manager to contact her and discuss what further assistance can be provided.”