Last month, On London reported distressing claims by homeless people temporarily housed in a hotel in Croydon that they were enduring substandard conditions, including overcrowding, damp, infestations, criminal activity in corridors and an absence of basic amenities including laundry facilities, all right in the middle of a pandemic.
Croydon Council, which is responsible for finding temporary dwellings for local homeless households, said it would investigate. However, the most productive response so far to pressure for change from unhappy residents – most of them women with children – and campaigners supporting them has come from from the owner of the hotel, Gauhar Nawab and some of his colleagues.
The campaigners, Accommodation Action (previously Hostel Action), had asked for direct contact with Nawab, who owns a number of hotels in the capital and is director of the London Hotel Group. Nawab agreed and attended an online meeting held earlier this month with members of the campaign, some of the residents and local MP Steve Reed.
The meeting followed what one of the campaigners called a “flurry of activity” within Gilroy Court itself following On London‘s coverage, with surveys of residents, of all them homeless people, about their needs, and repairs and exterior cleaning taking place. Washing machines have been brought into the premises for communal use and internet access has been provided, making it far easier for the hostel’s school age children to do homework.
Campaigners say there was also discussion at the meeting about improving security with CCTV and the possibility of creating a garden in partnership with residents, some of whom have been living at Gilroy Court for more than a year.
While stressing she considers there is “still a lot more to be done” and the need for improvements to be long-lasting, one of the campaigners who attended the meeting said she was “really impressed” with the commitments made, despite some moments of tension.
Gauhar Nawab said: “London Hotel Group always responds positively whenever any concerns are brought to our attention and this is no exception. We have welcomed this opportunity to be working constructively with Accommodation Action and to improve our services for all our residents, now and into the future.”
Croydon Council, which said last month it would investigate the situation at the hotel, is understood to have agreed to help with the costs of the washing machines. Representatives of the council are to meet the campaigners and local politicians imminently to provide an update about their inquiries. Nawab and Accommodation Action have agreed to meet again next month.
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