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York family’s damp curse
We launched our Stamp Out Poverty campaign to raise awareness of the many people struggling to make ends meet. KATE LIPTROT talks to one family living in difficult conditions.
IN a one-bedroom flat, plagued with mould, mum Donna D’Arcy fears for the health of her two young children.
Donna, 20, her partner, Scott, and her children Lucas, three, and Lee, 11 months, all share a bedroom at their home in Regent Street, near the city centre. There is mould on the walls.
Donna said the situation is becoming increasingly unbearable. Lee, who is teething and who cries through the night, has developed a bad cough which Donna believes is linked to the flat’s damp conditions.
She said she is especially worried as her friend Kia Stone’s 11-month-old daughter, Telan Carlton, died suddenly last October after being taken ill at her family’s damp one-bedroom flat in Chapelfields, Donna said: “Lee has a bad chest and does nothing but cough. I’m worried about the health of my children.
“My dad has asthma, and even when he comes round he can’t stay for more than 20 minutes. His chest starts playing up because of the damp and mould.
“My family say it’s disgraceful. They say the council needs to start looking after families like mine and treating them as a priority.”
Donna, who admits she has rent arrears, said she was allocated the flat three years ago when she was a single mother to Lucas. She has since got together with Scott and given birth to Lee.
She said she has attended a couple of council housing advice sessions at York Library, but has been unable to secure a new home.
Steve Waddington, City of York Council’s assistant director for housing and community safety, said: “We originally allocated this flat to Ms D’Arcy and her oldest child – then aged eight months – in line with the policy at the time.
“However, since then, she has had another child and her partner has moved in. As a result of these changes to her household, her transfer application has been awarded higher priority.
“We have replaced the standard extractor fan with a humidity controlled one and, as we do with all tenants, provide advice on ventilating and heating their home to mininise condensation.
“To secure a transfer, all existing tenants must be up to date with their rent and ensure their application is up to date. Support with paying off arrears is available through the estate managers, through the sessions listed below and via the CAB on 0844 826 9705.
“Tenants are also advised to maximise their chances of securing a move by frequently bidding on as wide a variety of home and locations as possible via northyorkshirehomechoice.org.uk and at homeswapper.co.uk, which is free for social housing tenants.
“People can also look at available options at york.gov.uk/housing/Affordable_housing/ or phone our housing registrations team on 01904 554044. Free internet access and help to use it, if needed, is available at any council library and the customer centre in Library Square.”