Clare House, in Bow, East London is a 22 story tower block completed in 1968. On the 29th Sept 2021 the 129 households were told by Clarion Housing Group they had just 48 hours to move out because of a fire safety report!
Understandably this caused shock and consternation to the residents who are now very angry.
Councillor Rachel Blake said that the Mayor and other local councillors were briefed on the morning of Wednesday 29 September about the huge upheaval that Clare House residents were about to experience. At that same moment Clarion staff were knocking on doors in Clare House to give the terrible news to residents that they had leave their homes urgently on the grounds of building safety. Rachel said, “For any family, being told to leave your home is a very traumatic experience.”
Local Councillors and the Mayor have been at Clare House talking to residents since Thursday 30 September both in person and online. They’ve also been talking to Clarion.
Councillor Rachel Blake (Bow East) sent this statement to Our Bow:
We have heard from over 50 households directly and are in direct communication with Clarion about individual cases. From our experience at Clare House, we asked for additional support to residents, from onsite translation services, emotional and mental health support, to independent legal advice. Since our initial feedback, independent advocacy has been on site at Clare House and local MIND services have been available for residents, along with information about the local talking therapies services. We have now secured funding from Clarion for independent Legal Advice because of the impact on tenancy, property and housing allocation status for residents. We are also supporting residents with parking queries in their new homes. With such a short period of time to move, residents should have safe access to the building 24 hours a day within a safe monitored system.
We are continuing to call for a process for residents to receive updates once they have moved out of the building including regular meetings and drop-ins for residents to hear from Clarion about the next steps with their homes. We believe that Clarion should commit to share technical reports about the condition of the building with residents. Now is the time for Clarion to develop a transparent process with residents about decision making on the future of the building and residents options.
We believe that every household should have their housing needs reassessed once the initial move has taken place, residents should have some space and time to consider their options – particularly with schools, caring and employment links. Tenants and Leaseholders should have a guaranteed right to return for all those who want to, if the building is maintained and should be supported to return to the new building or local area if Clare House is redeveloped
These are the immediate issues that residents are facing. Going forward, this will continue to be a hugely significant experience for residents, with an impact on their tenancies, work and caring network. There are serious questions to consider about the information that Clarion held and holds on the condition of the building and decision making process in the run up to the decision to ask residents to leave. There are serious questions to consider about the future of the building and involvement of residents in the future of the building and the need for investment in housing. The Council will also be carefully considering the wider impact on the supply of affordable homes in the borough as the homes at Clare House will no longer be available to let to the 1000s of households on the housing register.
Throughout a very stressful and upsetting time for residents, it has been heartening to hear the community offers of support, from packing boxes to help with removals. Thank you to everyone who has been in touch and who is supporting their friends and family in Clare House. We are a strong community and as local representatives we will be doing everything we can to support the Clare House residents and the community in Bow to get through this difficult time.
Cllr. Rachel Blake
Clarion Housing Group said: “Clarion commissioned expert independent reports for all buildings over 18 metres following government guidance and this report has concluded that Clare House cannot be kept safe without major refurbishment, or demolition and rebuilding.”