Stairway to hell as flats attract rough sleepers in Hemel Hempstead

Wootton Drive
Wootton Drive

A young mum woke to find two homeless men sleeping on the stairway of her block of flats - despite pleading to her landlords to install a lock for the building.

Amber Hawkins, who lives with her ten-year-old son in Wootton Drive, Hemel Hempstead, was left in ‘disbelief’ that a security lock had never been fitted to the building entrance.

After reporting the incident to her housing association, CDS Co-Opertives, the firm refused to clear up the lighters, blankets and pillows left by the men.

Amber, who has lived at the property for nine years, said: “As a single mother living with my 10-year-old boy it is frightening to know that anyone can come in.

“I was in complete shock when I saw the two men from the stairway, and we were worried that they would keep returning.”

When she contacted CDS, the firm claimed it was the council’s responsibilty to clear up the belongings.

However Amber was left furious by Dacorum Borough Council’s response.

She said: “They thought my issue was funny and made me feel stupid, saying that because I was not a council tenant they would not help me at all.

“I know the homeless need somewhere to stay, and it’s a huge problem, but with young children around it is not acceptable.”

Amber, worried by the about safety risks posed by the abandoned lighters, and possible needles, called CDS again.

She said: “CDS said to me that they could not do anything about it because they are based in London.

“I feel more angry and let down by the way my housing officer and the whole company has dealt with this situation. We should be a high priority.

“We pay for maintenance to have over building cleaned and no-one even called back.”

A spokesman from Dacorum Borough Council said: “The lady spoke to a member of our environmental health team and was advised that as the block is not managed by the council, she needed to contact the housing association regarding the removal of the items.

“We are sorry that we could not help the lady on this occasion.”

A spokesman from CDS told the Gazette that letters concerning a lock change have been sent to the building’s residents.