A DEVASTATED pensioner is being kicked out of her ‘forever home’ with nowhere to go just three weeks before Christmas.
Linda Elsworth, 71, says she has nowhere to go if she’s evicted from her home in Oulton, Leeds on December 1 – and even if she did ‘it wouldn’t be the same’.
Linda Elsworth, 71, says she has nowhere to go if she’s evicted from her home in LeedsCredit: MEN Media
Linda, originally from Hornsea, East Yorkshire, said: “I paid for this out of my own pocket and made the place my home and my community.
“I was comfortable in thinking this would be my forever home, and now the rug’s been pulled from under us and it’s not.”
The eviction notice comes from Linda’s landlord, Pemberstone, who plans on demolishing and redevelop the housing estate.
Linda said: “It’s a little bit disheartening because I spent most of my savings to make this my home and now it’s all going to be taken away from me.
“It’s devastating. It’s like losing your family.
“The thought of being homeless is scary – especially at this time of year.”
Pemberstone has now served eviction notices on the eight most ‘structurally unsound’ houses on the estate.
Linda, a retired administrator, moved to the Sugar Hill estate six-and-a-half years ago after her marriage broke down.
Her best friend Hazel, who already lived on the Sugar Hill estate, suggested she move there too as it was affordable and would mean she wouldn’t be alone.
She said she fit right in and quickly grew to love the sense of community in the old miners’ estate.
Linda added: “I’m having to pack up all my boxes, with all my memories.”
“I only have about four or five days but there’s no way that’s going to happen because I’ve got nowhere to go.
After several years of residents fighting Pemberstone’s application to bulldoze the old mining estate, Linda and her neighbours received notice in August that they would need to be out by December 1.
Linda said: “I’m physically looking for places but there just isn’t anywhere – at least not anywhere that I could afford.
“The reason we all live here is because they’re affordable properties for people such as myself on a state pension and housing benefits and people on lower income.
“I’m extremely worried. My hair’s started to fall out and my blood pressure is up and down all over the place.
“I don’t know what to do. When Wednesday comes around and I’m going to have to say: ‘I’m sorry I’m not moving because I’ve got nowhere to go.’
“I can manage keeping the house neat and tidy but having to pull it apart and move furniture and pack is just hard work.”
‘I’m sorry I’m not moving because I’ve got nowhere to go.’
Linda has been struggling to find a new place in Leeds’ competitive housing market, needing a property on the ground floor because of her mobility and specific kitchen and bathroom fittings, such as a walk-in shower.
Linda has already had to turn down two properties because she knew she wouldn’t be able to cope alone in them.
Leeds City Council has promised to help tenants like Linda financially so they do not become homeless, but it’s still likely she won’t be able to stay in the same area.
Linda said: “I know if I ask my friends and neighbours for assistance packing they’ll rally around and help – that’s the way they are.
“That’s the one thing that makes this worse – we aren’t just friends and neighbours – we’re a community, an extended family. If we lose that it’ll be like having my family cut off.
” I don’t know what I’d do without them – they helped me with everything during the pandemic.”
Linda’s next door neighbour has already moved out ahead of the eviction notice, and she says she’s felt ‘a bit lost’ since they went.
Leeds City Council originally denied Pemberstone planning permission to bulldoze the estate in 2019 – but the decision was overturned the next year by the government.
A residents’ campaign group, Save Our Homes LS26, urged the council to buy and refurbish the estate, but was concluded that it would be too expensive.
A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “The notices being served to residents of Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive in Oulton are from landlord Pemberstone, in accordance with national law.
“In terms of council support for the residents, Leeds Housing Options has contacted them with advice and assistance, and a surgery also took place in the community last week, both during the day and in the evening.
“The council has also backdated any priority awards which will further support those tenants losing their homes and not yet engaged with Leeds Housing Options to hopefully reduce the time taken to be successful with an offer of a suitable council property.
“The council understands the short timescales involved and whilst we are working with residents to assist with an offer of a council property there is strong support in place now to help residents secure private rented accommodation in the short term.”
Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for infrastructure and climate, said their priority is minimising the hardship on current tenants.
She said: “Our priority remains firmly on helping to minimise the stress and any hardship on the tenants concerned, providing all the help and guidance we can to ensure they have alternative accommodation and support.
“We are also committed to working with the developer of the site to ensure those tenants displaced will have priority for the new affordable homes, which the aim is now to have up to 40 such properties available for rent.
“Moving forward, the council remains committed to lobbying government to change the law and end ‘no fault’ evictions.”
A spokesman for Pemberstone added: “Leeds City Council has also assured tenants that they will be supported in obtaining alternative accommodation.
“We firmly believe that the redevelopment of the estate, which would include the creation of new affordable housing, is the best option to secure its long-term housing future.”
She said she fit right in and quickly grew to love the sense of community in the old miners’ estateCredit: MEN Media
The eviction notice comes from Linda’s landlord, Pemberstone, who plans on demolishing and redevelop the housing estateCredit: MEN Media
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