Page last updated at 23:48 GMT, Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Homelessness 'our only option'

Stephanie Crawford's home has been deemed unfit for human habitation but she and her family have nowhere else to go.
Stephanie Crawford has been on a council waiting list for five years.

The house in north Manchester does not have a proper kitchen, the ceiling is falling in, the walls are unsound and mice plague the property.

"Because of the condition of the house it's not possible to do normal things like take a shower or cook a meal and we have to eat at my mum's around the corner," Stephanie says.

When she moved into the dilapidated property last June the private property agency which owns it promised to do all the many repairs required immediately, she says.

However, in the end she was forced to take the company to court to get the work started.

And due to a lack of council housing, she has nowhere else to go.

Not enough room

"I've been on the council waiting list for five years now but the council say there's nothing they can do. They can't move somebody out to move me in so I've just got to wait."

In the meantime, the state of the house has led to the family effectively being split up with Stephanie's 16-year-old daughter staying with her grandmother.

But as Stephanie's two brothers also live with their mother, there is not enough room for Stephanie and her younger daughter.

As much as it upsets her living in this house, she'd be a hundred times more upset if we were really homeless
Stephanie Crawford

The family's only other option, she says, is to make themselves intentionally homeless.

But, as the full-time carer for her mother who is dying of cancer, she does not want to risk ending up in temporary accommodation a long distance from her.

And she believes that unsuitable as their present house is, life in temporary accommodation would be much worse for her five-year-old.

"My daughter is unsettled by the present accommodation, she's very frightened of the mice. But as much as it upsets her living in this house, she'd be a hundred times more upset if we were really homeless."

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