An Edinburgh single mother is living in her mother’s tiny spare room with her four children as she waits for social housing, a situation faced by many across the housing-starved city.
24-year-old single mother Toni Bell worked as an administrator for the Scottish Mediation Network before she had to quit during her first pregnancy. Now, Bell shares a room with her eldest daughter and her three infant triplets, waiting for a council house. “A three-year-old shouldn’t be sharing a bed with her mom and five people shouldn’t be staying in one room,” she told The Guardian. “My triplets are sleeping in Moses baskets on the floor and are quickly outgrowing them. There’s no room for a cot – you can’t even see the floor in the room.”
While Bell has been offered a temporary place in a B&B as she waits for permanent housing, she says that the lack of cooking facilities would make it impossible to prepare bottled food for her young triplets. But her current situation is a little better. “I feel sick about the whole situation,” she told reporters. “There’s no room and it’s not the environment you want to be bringing your children up in.”
Bell suffers from Léri-Weill dyschondrosteosis, a bone growth disorder that leaves her with shortened bones and in frequent pain. As her mother lives in a third-floor flat, carrying her children up and down the stairs is difficult: “I have to take the buggy to the bottom of the stairs and then bring the children down one by one. Sometimes with my disorder, I struggle even to lift them.”
Bell’s situation is common in Edinburgh, which is suffering from what charity Shelter Scotland calls a “housing crisis.” Social housing is facing drastic shortages, and there are currently almost 170 applications bidding for every home available in the city. The city’s population is set to grow by almost a third over the next twenty years, making the crisis even more urgent.
Gavin Barrier, the convener of Edinburgh’s council housing and economy committee, admits that the challenge of finding housing is “particularly acute in the capital.” To ease the housing shortage, he says, the council is working on “one of the most ambitious housing plans in the UK following the capital coalition’s pledge to build 20,000 homes in the next ten years.”
Currently, the government is spending an extra £27 million a year providing people with temporary housing rather than a permanent home, and many in the government have called for a more ambitious, permanent solution for the housing crisis. For Bell, it can’t come soon enough. “I need permanent accommodation so I have some stability for my children,” she told The Guardian. “They deserve so much better.”
For more news stories like this, click ‘NEXT PAGE.’ And why not ‘SHARE’ on Facebook?