98 Grenfell Tower families still stuck in hotels, figures show
Only 12 surviving households have found permanent homes since December.
Almost 100 families whose homes were destroyed in the Grenfell Tower fire remain stuck in hotels seven months on from the disaster, new figures show.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) was accused of “yawning failures” after its leader said only 12 surviving households had found permanent homes since December.
Elizabeth Campbell told a meeting of the local authority that 54 families forced to flee the deadly inferno now had new houses, while 56 were in temporary accommodation.
A total of 98 households remain in hotels, she added, and 38 offers for permanent new flats have been accepted.
But the flats acquired by the council to rehouse survivors are not as big as the flats many lost in the fire, deputy council leader Kim Taylor-Smith admitted.
Ms Campbell said: “Solicitors are working around the clock to put contracts together and viewings are taking place every day.
“We had 43 viewings over the last two weeks and we have bought a total of 307 properties for 208 households, so no-one is without a choice for future homes.”
They will all be uploaded to an online system by February, she added.
The rehousing progress was condemned by Labour councillor Robert Atkinson, who said: “I’m always prepared to give praise where it is due, but there is very little praise to give this against the yawning failures that still confront us.
“The ongoing failure to move people out of hotels invites derision and anger.
“It is alright to say we are ‘steadily working through’ and ‘this is our first priority’ – if it is our first priority then we should do better.”
Reuben Ceaser, a resident from nearby Clarendon Walk, added: “I believe you give dogs and guinea pigs better care.”
Responding to concerns from evacuated residents, Mr Taylor-Smith said: “We have now secured 300 properties which we believe are good quality homes.
“They are not, I’ll be frank, they are not the size of the Grenfell properties, but they are on lower-ground floors, there is a mixture in order to give people the best possible choice.”
Tempers flared on several occasions at Kensington Town Hall as heckles came from the public gallery, including one man who claimed security had not allowed him to present a petition.
“Shame,” yelled a group of those watching proceedings.
An update was provided on a handover of the borough’s housing stock from the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO), the body that managed Grenfell Tower.
Thousands of properties are to be returned to the council after the TMO expressed doubt it could continue delivering an effective service.
Mr Taylor-Smith, who admitted “mixed emotions” over the transition, said: “Housing stock under the management of the TMO is deteriorating badly and the council must step in quickly to stop the rot.
“The handback will allow us to ensure that services to residents are run better and the huge backlog of repairs – 3,500, using the TMO figures, though I fear the figure will be considerably higher – will be dealt with as a priority.”
The TMO and RBKC are facing police investigations for offences including corporate manslaughter linked to the June 14 blaze, which left 71 dead.