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House of horrors Mum forced into homelessness after fleeing two 'uninhabitable' Housing Executive homes

Mum Sarah has to sofa surf after her landlord hiked her rent to cover his rising bills

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Mum-of-two Sarah McCloskey is living out of a suitcase

Mum-of-two Sarah McCloskey is living out of a suitcase

Mum-of-two Sarah McCloskey is living out of a suitcase

A mum forced into homelessness by the UK’s living costs crunch is at the brink of despair after fleeing two horror Housing Executive homes in a row.

Sarah McCloskey (30) was moved with her two children to houses covered in mould and filth after her landlord hiked her rent to cover his rising bills.

Her daughters Mya (5) and Maisie (9) flew into hysterics when they saw and smelt the first home she was given by the Housing Executive at Kilgreel Walk, Co Antrim, as it was riddled with mould.

Sarah was again left horrified when her case workers found the family a property at Glenvarra Drive in her native town Coleraine – which she said was so deep in filth it reduced her to tears.

The desperate mum told the Sunday World about fleeing the second property to sofa surf at friends’ and families’ houses: “I suffer from anxiety and depression and being homeless is really bringing it out in me.

“I’m at the end of my tether.

“My two girls are currently being assessed by their school – Maisie has behavioural issues and Mya has a learning disability. This is no way to live.”

Unemployed Sarah, who struggles to work due to crippling depression, said her landlord blamed Covid and rising living costs for raising her rent from £398 a month to £495 at her three-bed bungalow in Co Antrim, where she had happily lived for nine years.

“The landlord was accepting what housing benefit I got for rent and there was an agreement I would do work on the property in exchange for him not raising the rent,” she said.

“I spent £3,000 on that place. But he blamed the pandemic and rising living costs for the raise.

“I said, ‘I can’t afford that’ because I was on £350 income support and £300 for both my children a month.”

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Sarah put her belongings into storage and moved with her girls from friends’ houses to her mum’s and sister’s small apartments before she landed Housing Executive accommodation.

She said about her devastation at seeing the first property she was allocated at the start of the month: “The smell, the musty smell, was absolutely stinking. My daughter was crying and I was left with three days without heat in the house – there was nothing in that house.

“I got my girls to my sister’s box room and I stayed in that house, in that musty, smelly dampness. But it got to the point where I just had to leave and I handed back the keys.

“The Housing Executive said because I had given up that house I had to find my own accommodation, so I was homeless again, until they found me another house this week.”

Sarah added that things were just as bad in the second house.

She has put her girls back into her relatives’ homes and is back to sofa surfing while she pleads with the Housing Executive to find her somewhere liveable.

Sarah added: “I came into the second property and it was freezing. There was dirt on the front doors and on the walls and the kitchen was black with dirt.

“There was red sauce up the living room wall and there was no plates, no cutlery – nothing. I’m homeless so all my stuff is in storage. I don’t have those utensils or anything.

“They were expecting me to move in there with two girls with nothing, and the state of the place was absolutely rotten.

“I rang the Housing Executive and they insisted the place had been cleaned.”

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “We are working with this applicant to meet her housing needs. She has been placed in temporary accommodation.

“We are aware this is not is her ideal area of choice but unfortunately there are no available alternatives at this time.

“Staff will continue to work with this applicant to find  suitable rehousing for her and her family.”

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