Gay couple share horror at being denied housing for five years while one battles cancer

A married gay couple have shared their horror of living on their friend’s sofa for four years while waiting for a council flat.

Andrew and Gustavo William-Coleman said that they have been “pushed from pillar to post” during their five-year fight for a flat in Brent, north west London.

William-Coleman suffers from a series of health complications including cancer, arthritis and a curvature of the spine.


Brent Town Hall

Brent Town Hall (Creative Commons)

He and husband Gustavo were evicted by their landlord in 2013 after serving an improvement notice for repairs to be made to the accommodation.

After four years of staying with a friend, the pair have said that “enough is enough.”

“I’ve lived in the borough all my life,” William-Coleman told PinkNews.

“But my partner and I have now been living in a friend’s flat for four years. I am not particularly well at the moment. I’ve just had four operations to find out that I’ve got cancer,” he explained.

“We are suffering terribly, and we don’t know when it’s going to end.”

William-Coleman’s partner Gustavo also experiences severe learning difficulties and is unable to work.

While staying at their friend’s flat, they have called the police three times after being threatened by neighbours.

apartment buildings

“I’ve suffered horrendous intimidation while living in my friend’s house,” William-Coleman told PinkNews.

“There are some people on the estate that do not like our sexuality. We’ve reported three incidents to the police but we have nowhere else to go,” he explained.

“I’m not ashamed to be gay. We haven’t done anything wrong,” he added.

William-Coleman has logged more than 50 complaints with the council and has rallied local politicians for support.

The council offered him a studio flat in March 2018, but it “went against all of our medical needs.”

“I’ve got binders of support. I’ve got councillors to testify. But I’ve been told that I can’t contact the council to complain anymore,” he said.

“My health is getting worse. I’m just desperate to provide a roof over my partner’s head. He’s been so patient with all of this and I just don’t know how to help anymore.”

“Mr. Andrew William-Coleman applied for further benefits to pay a higher rent in 2015, claiming a terminal medical condition, but an assessment of his situation proved that he did not meet the qualifying criteria,” a spokesperson for Brent Council told PinkNews.

“Despite Brent Council’s advice at the time, Mr. William-Coleman did not pursue a homelessness application. His medical needs were reassessed in December 2017 when he did make a homelessness application, the Council accepted a housing duty and will in due course make him an offer of suitable accommodation as soon as one becomes available.”