Evicted Raynesfield and Griffiths Road key workers priced out of Merton

Out on the streets: Raynesfield residents will be evicted by the end of the year.

Out on the streets: Raynesfield residents will be evicted by the end of the year.

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Nurses and school workers facing eviction from their police-owned homes say they are being "cleansed" from the borough due to a lack of affordable housing.

Key workers living at Raynesfield in Raynes Park and 30 Griffiths Road in Wimbledon will be evicted from their flats by the end of the year after the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) sold the land.

The sale forms part of Boris Johnson's long-term estate strategy to sell off properties and invest profits back into frontline policing.

Residents of the two estates, mostly on low salaries, will now have to leave the borough because they neither earn enough to rent privately nor meet criteria to qualify for social housing.

Natasha Harris, Raynesfield resident and caretaker at Joseph Hood Primary school, said: "My main concern is being left out on the street with nowhere to go.

"I don’t want to lose a job that I’ve been doing for sixteen years. We just thought there would be more help out there for us."

Miss Harris, 43, who lives with her daughter, 20, an assistant at the national archives in Kew, added: "I have been living here for 20 years but there’s nothing Merton Council can do.

"When we go to the estate agents they say sorry, we can’t help.

"Even if I have enough money to put a deposit together, because my earnings are less than £38,000 they're not interested."

She said she doesn't think she'll be able to find another school caretaking job because she worked her way up at the school and lacks up-to-date qualifications.

Neighbour and mum-of-three Susan will be paying nearly three times her current rent to live in Sutton so her daughters can continue attending Wimbledon schools.

The former mental health nurse at St George's Hospital, Tooting, said: "For me, we have gone private renting because I want my kids to stay in school.

"We didn’t even bother going to the council. I have never been to get benefits and I don’t intend to.

"Boris Johnson likes affordable housing but what he’s doing is moving people out of affordable housing, replacing it with luxury housing and turning people out of a community."

"It's social cleansing. It's all about money, it's nothing about the well-being of people."

Tom Copley, Labour's housing spokesman on the London Assembly, raised the fate of residents with Mr Johnson during Mayor's Question Time on June 11, but to no avail.

Citing a letter sent in April to Councillor Andrew Judge, Mr Johnson said: "MOPAC is responsible for policing and keeping London safe and although property was leased to Crown Housing, MOPAC must focus on this priority.

"I understand that Crown Housing is working with each tenant to establish whether they have alternative accommodation that they could offer, and I am sure that you, as a member of the local authority, will ensure that Merton Council's Housing Services make tenants aware of any further support arrangements."

However, Merton Council, which sold-off all its housing stock in 2010, can do little to assist tenants.

Coun Judge, cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration, said the council has powers to assist some residents with private rental deposits, but many of the families don't qualify for housing need.

Yvonne Fuyane, a nurse at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital who also lives at Raynesfield, said she has been advised she will have to move to Birmingham or Scotland to secure social housing.

She said other London boroughs won't add anyone to their social housing lists if they do not already live in the borough.

Crown Housing Association, now Crown Simmons Housing (CSH), leased the properties to key workers on a temporary basis from MOPAC.

A CSH spokeswoman said: "Residents are the highest priority for lettings if any of our properties become available, however, we have a limited housing stock and, unfortunately, due to the short supply of affordable housing it has been very difficult to find suitable, alternative accommodation for residents who need to be near Merton for work, family or educational needs."

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