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While many of us were sitting down to enjoy a wonderful Christmas dinner alongside our families, one man who lives in Birmingham was spending a second year alone as the only remaining occupant of a condemned tower block.
Dad-of-four Ezekiel Hermon is the final resident of Saxelby House and has watched 50 of his neighbours be rehoused in other properties over the last two years.
However, because the alternatives that have been offered to him have so far proven unsuitable, he remains in the tower block, which is in a state of some disrepair.
So far, Birmingham City Council has offered him six properties, but they have all been one-bedroom flats, which he says are not suitable for his children to stay over, or two bedroom properties in buildings for over 55s.
Ezekiel is 46-years-old.
He’s also been offered a ‘retirement’ bungalow, with adaptions made for disabled people, but has again turned down the offer as it is unsuitable.
He told Birmingham Live: "I've lived on my own for over a year now. I've not been given any suitable accommodation to leave. I've just been left here, alone.
"It's been horrible. I've been here for 25 years so I'm always used to people walking around, but it's weird when no one's here because of any little noise, you know that you're the only one that's here, so who else has come in?
"You just see everybody moving out, and you're in here, alone. Not even alone for one month, not two months, but a year.
"There's no way of even trying to get out because I'm being stopped from leaving."
The building has smashed windows that are covered in tape to stop falling glass, as well as boarded up landings because people have tried to enter the building illegally.
All of the other floors have padlocked gates on them to stop intruders.
Once, he claims the light in one of the lifts stopped working for two weeks.
Ezekiel has to keep his heating on high and peg curtains over the windows in order to keep the heat in, as there’s no-one else living in any of the other flats.
"My electric company got in touch because they wanted to know why such a high amount was being used," he explained.
"I used more electricity off peak in those nine hours than two family homes to keep them warm. Because once I turn off the heating, it just goes cold.
"There's no heating coming up, so the floor is constantly freezing cold, even if I put it on high.”
When his children come over, he sleeps on the sofa so that they can share the two bedrooms.
Ezekiel continued: "This is their home as well as my home, and I'm having to bring them somewhere where it's considered dangerous, why do my children have to come in here and be subjected to that, when no other tenants' children had to be put through this?
"There are tenants that have moved out of this block, rehoused comfortably, they will be having their third Christmas in their new home.
"Now I'll be having my second Christmas alone. I never chose this to happen, this has been put on me.
"I'm trying to get out, I'm not blocking anyone, I'm trying to cooperate, but they're not listening, there's something in the way."
Community activist Desmond Jaddoo described the actions of Birmingham Council as ‘highly questionable’.
He’s been helping Ezekiel ahead of a January court case.
Jaddoo added: "The fact that he utilises both bedrooms and this property is of no consequence to Birmingham City Council and it is of no consequence in their view that they created this issue with the neglect of their housing stock with the need to demolish it.
"Their actions have led to this issue and it would appear that they are pushing Mr Hermon around as opposed to taking into account his current living circumstances which occupies a two-bedroom flat.
"The council will talk about their policy however there is provision within their policy for them to use their discretion and it would appear that unfortunately this is not the case despite us raising this with the leader of the council as well."
A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council said: "Mr Hermon has been the last resident in Saxelby House since November 2020 and has not placed any bids for alternative accommodation since rehousing began.
"For this reason, management bids for alternative accommodation have been placed for him. Mr Hermon has been made six offers, three one-bedroom and three two-bedroom, all of which have been refused."
"Mr Hermon was served with a Notice of Seeking Possession and a court hearing date of January 21, 2022, has been set to gain vacant possession of the property.
"The latest offer made to Mr Hermon of a one-bedroom bungalow in one of his preferred areas has been made prior to the court hearing date.
"Mr Hermon attended the viewing of this bungalow on the September 27, 2021, and refused this as being too small.
"We are holding this offer for Mr Hermon until the court hearing as it is in line with the Allocation Policy as a reasonable offer of accommodation."
The offer of the bungalow will ‘remain open’ should the court decide to give a possession order on January 21 2022.
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