Campaigners back mother and four children refusing to leave Hackney home in re-housing dispute

Hackney Locals protesting in support of Bibi’s family outside Marian Court Pic:Marian Hackney

Campaigners are backing a single mother of four children who refuses to leave her Hackney council-owned site despite it being scheduled for demolition.

Shahbana Bibi says she is unable to leave her home in Marian Court, in Hackney Central because she claims the alternative accommodation, she has been offered is unsuitable.

Bibi, and her four children, were one of the first to be moved into Marian Court as a temporary measure back in 2013 while they waited for a social home to become available.

Bibi’s family received their first direct offer of new accommodation in October last year, but not for the social housing they had initially applied for. The council is offering an alternative home on the Kingsmead Estate in Homerton which she says is “unsafe accommodation”. 

Demolition work on other parts of the Marian Court estate has already begun, while Bibi and her children are still living in their  flat as they have nowhere else to go.

Shahbana Bibi and one of her children outside Marian Court Pic: Shahbana01

She is being backed by groups such as the London Renters Union and activists Sisters Uncut, who have staged demonstrations outside the property.

Bibi told Eastlondonlines: “I’m shocked and devastated. I’ve approached my local MP Diane Abbott for support due to being in this situation for so long.”

However, Bibi’s claims that her refusal of the flat offer in Kingsmead and request for social housing elsewhere has been interpreted by the council as discharging its duty of providing housing for her family. “This is causing me to have an uncertain future and further adds to my stress.”

There has been no response from Abbott or Hackney Council to ELL’s requests for comments on the situation with Bibi’s family.

Hackney-based charity Sisters Uncut’s have condemned the demolition as a “total disregard for safety” and that the family are “desperate to move”. In a statement it said: “The truth is the new property the council has offered is currently not habitable or safe for children.”

The organisation also pointed that the alternative property has unfinished flooring, areas of bare concrete wall with nails sticking out and has “damp and disrepair”, which makes it “uninhabitable” as members of the family suffer from severe asthma.

 Protest Banners left by locals outside Marian Court Pic: Shahbana01 via Twitter

Kenny Love, a representative from London Renters Union also said they also supported the family: “As we understand it, Shahbana sought her MP’s assistance in her fight to be rehoused fairly. For this to be turned around and used against her is deeply troubling and grossly inappropriate.”

“If promises continue to be broken, we are more than prepared to take collective action in the interests of our members.”

Supporters of the family have created a Twitter account, to support the campaign.

The Twitter page also supported Shahbana’s assertion about the unsafe conditions of the offered housing by tweeting:

Hannah White, a neighbour said: “I am shocked the council thinks it’s appropriate for the family to still be living in Marian Court while it’s being demolished. The disruption and stress must be unbearable. As a neighbour it is very concerning.”

In response to Bibi’s situation, Hackney Council said in a statement that the initial demolition “will not impact the building where the last remaining family on the estate is still choosing to live.” The council representative also said: “We have undertaken full health and safety assessments to ensure that the work will not cause any health risk to the family.”

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