A Grenfell Tower survivor who remains in temporary accommodation three years after the fire has spoken out about his “nightmare” and feelings of racial discrimination.
Joseph John escaped the burning building from his flat on the second floor, carrying first his infant son and his partner – who had mobility issues – out through a window to escape.
Like all the residents of the building he was then rendered homeless and has been waiting ever since to be rehoused in a permanent home.
He is one of seven households, out of 201 from the tower, who still remain without a permanent home.
Because of ongoing trauma caused by the fire, he wants a home on the ground floor with space for his children to stay with him.
But he said he has not yet received an offer of a suitable property from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), and is not receiving financial support for a child who was born after the fire.
He is currently housed in temporary accommodation with a single exit on the second floor.
He told Inside Housing: “It is a nightmare. A nightmare. They promised to house us in a couple of weeks, but I am still stuck here waiting.
“I have sustained some injuries and dealing with stairs is difficult. I have one exit here so in case of an emergency I would have to go through the window.”
Asked if he felt his race played a role in his treatment, he added: “I will say definitely yes, not just me but a lot of others behind me are suffering but they are frightened to say what they are facing.
“I haven’t been offered [adequate] housing as other people have. Most of my friends are permanently housed right now, most of them were born here.”
Many of the 194 households who have been rehoused are not white, and many were not born in the UK.
However, the rehousing process has been slow and RBKC has previously apologised for its approach to rehousing in the aftermath of the fire.
As prime minister, Theresa May promised on 22 June 2017 that all Grenfell Tower survivors would be offered rehousing “within three weeks”.
Mr John was born in Trinidad and Tobago, before moving to England in 2016 to be with his English partner for the birth of their child.
The family was housed in Grenfell Tower in March 2017 – just weeks before the fire. They did not want to live in a high rise because of Mr John’s partner’s mobility difficulties.
“We were told that if we didn’t accept it we would be making ourselves “intentionally homeless’,” he said in a witness statement to the inquiry in 2018.
When the fire broke out the couple were unable to evacuate. Mr John was able to climb down via a fence that adjoined the tower to nearby low rises, holding his baby, and then return to help his partner escape.
Jodie Green, an associate at Russell Cooke, the law firm acting for Mr John, said: “The majority of residents in Grenfell Tower were from BAME communities. Some of the survivors, including Joseph John, remain in unsuitable, temporary accommodation, more than three years after the fire, and are not being adequately financially supported.
“Many of the survivors of the fire feel marginalised and let down by both local and central government, and have instead had to rely on the goodwill of the local community and charities for support.”
A spokesperson for RBKC said: “Former residents of Grenfell Tower and Walk have the highest priority on our housing register and we have worked with them at their own pace to find properties they can call home.
“We have successfully supported 194 households into a home of their own and our dedicated officers will continue to work closely with the small number yet to accept a permanent home.”