Borehamwood flat fire victim rehomed by council into apartment with 'no fridge, washing machine and cooker' – Herts Live


One former tenant at a Borehamwood block of flats has said she is relying on foodbanks after receiving little support from local authorities
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A Borehamwood woman whose flat was gutted by a fire five months ago says she's been rehomed into accommodation without a "fridge, washing machine and cooker". Misha and her three-year-old son were two of the residents displaced after a major building fire in Balmoral Drive on August 12, 2022.
They now live together in Bushey, but Misha has said it is almost as though the “lack of support” from local authorities “became personal” in the months after the fire. Hertsmere Borough Council said it aimed to provide emergency temporary accommodation and support individuals to secure suitable affordable alternative housing.
But the Hertfordshire mum said her new flat had “no fridge, no washing machine, no cooker, no nothing” when she moved in, and that she finished laying the floor in the hall herself on New Year’s Day. “Apart from my GoFundMe and one organised by the community, we have had no support,” Misha said. “I have had to spend around £3,000 on a property which I do not want to live in. It feels as though the council and the authorities have made my life difficult. I pushed them for answers. I complained. I feel like it became personal that the council began to ignore me.”
READ MORE: Borehamwood flats destroyed as video shows fire crews battling blaze
Misha, who was a private renter in the council block but now receives support from local authorities, was moved into hotel accommodation after the blaze. Before moving into more permanent accommodation in Bushey, she and her son lived in “container housing”.
She said: “After the initial shock, I cried for days. Then I came to terms with the fact that the container home was temporary. There was one bedroom so I had to share a bed with my little boy, with his toys stored under the bed. But I thought they would find me accommodation which was suitable.
“Instead, they sent me to accommodation in Bushey. I have to get to work and my petrol costs have increased with the distance – about £60 more per week than I paid before. I now have extra monthly expenses – paying off the credit cards, store cards and fridge which I had to purchase – and there is still no cooker in the flat. Overall, I'm paying about £200 more per month than I did living in Borehamwood and I've started using a foodbank.”
Alana is another Balmoral Drive resident who was able to remain in Borehamwood. “I lived there for 22 years,” she explained. “Everything I’ve ever had from childhood was there, and losing all that was terrible. Being homeless is not something you expect at my age.”
Alana added that although a Clarion caseworker and her borough councillors called for swift action, Clarion Housing – which manages the block – was slow to let displaced residents access their salvaged belongings. “We should have had access to our belongings sooner than we were,” she said.
“By the time we could collect our possessions, many of them were damp and mouldy. The cost emotionally and psychologically has been immense. What can you say to someone who has lost everything? It’s not really about material things, because they can be replaced. Charities and my church have been a great help but have I had the support emotionally? No.”
To celebrate the residents’ resolve after the fire, pupils of the nearby Saffron Green Primary School designed a mural which has now been painted on blue hoarding around the building. Six-year-old pupil Ava-Mae, a neighbour, came up with the idea with support from her teachers, borough councillor Dan Ozarow (Lab, Borehamwood Kenilworth), Hertsmere Borough Council and Clarion.
A Clarion Housing spokesperson said the organisation has now rehoused all Balmoral Drive residents displaced by the blaze. “On the day of the fire our main priority was ensuring that all of our residents were safe,” they said. “Our local team worked very closely with Hertsmere Borough Council, the police and the fire brigade to make sure that all of our residents had temporary accommodation to move into.
“We also made referrals to local agencies where needed. We quickly set up surgeries at our local office three times a week for affected residents, where we offered advice and assistance. Every household was also given a dedicated staff member that they could contact and who provided them with regular updates. All of our residents have now been allocated new homes and will receive financial support from Clarion to help them with these moves.”
A Hertsmere Borough Council spokesperson said: “In terms of our immediate response to this shocking incident, we fully recognised the need to respond quickly and the impact on the residents. We offered support in the immediate aftermath to emergency services colleagues and set up a reception centre at the Venue gym within an hour, supported by our leisure contractors InspireAll.
“Our staff worked alongside partner agencies to help triage the immediate support needed by those affected and to ensure that they were provided with immediate accommodation that evening. In rare circumstances such as these we aim to provide emergency temporary accommodation and support the individuals to secure suitable affordable alternative housing.”
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