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Eviction-threat shock as letters are wrongly sent out to elderly residents

Housing trust blames human error for 'mistake', as frail residents slam managers' 'arrogance'

11 February, 2019 — By Tom Foot

Vivian Court in Maida Vale

VULNERABLE elderly people in retirement homes are in “turmoil” after eviction-threat letters were wrongly sent out to hundreds of homes by housing managers.

Central & Cecil Housing Trust issued a “formal apology” on Wednesday for sending the letters to frail and elderly residents in homes at Edna House, Paddington, and Vivian Court and Ada Court in Maida Vale.

The letter said the trust would “begin legal proceedings to take ownership of your home” if hundreds of pounds of arrears were not paid within seven days.

The trust – originally set up to provide refuge to homeless young women and now providing “inspirational, person-centred care and support to older people” – blamed human error for the “mistake”. The bungle has affected all of its residential projects in London.

Central and Cecil resident Sally de Souza said: “This letter shows a depth of arrogance and disregard for people at a level of which I have never seen in my 77 years. Even our new manager was shocked. The letter was folded and slipped through our letter boxes, not even in an envelope.”

She added: “Why can’t senior C&C staff understand how vital a safe and secure home is to vulnerable people, and particularly the elderly. It is our safe haven.”

Several residents have contacted the Extra about the chaos since the letters went out on Monday. Some said they had begun making payments for arrears they now realise they do not owe.

Many C&C residents are unable to get out of bed. The rooms have been fitted with non-movement sensors that detect long spells of inactivity. The arrears referred to in the C&C rent demand letter were in fact amount paid each month in housing benefit to the trust.

C&C said its director of service, Yvonne Atkinson, and chief executive Julia Ashley, had visited its residential blocks to “personally meet with residents and discuss this issue”.

In a “sincere apology” to residents, Ms Ashley added: “This was not of the standard of communication or service that C&C expects to provide. We will also always do all we can to rectify our mistakes.

“It is important to us that we do everything we can to support residents to pay their rent, and when things go wrong, to communicate clearly and with compassion.

“We will also always do all we can to rectify our mistakes. We are looking to improve our service and provide residents with the best service possible.”

A statement added: “C&C had a major system change this year. The letters were sent out to residents identified in our system as being in arrears. We acknowledge that some of these residents were incorrectly identified.”

The statement added that the problem was not related to staff changes last year.

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