High rise mum pleads for new home

By Gemma Burns

A North Belfast couple who have been forced to live out of one bedroom in an eleventh floor tower block flat with their two young children have pleaded with the Housing Executive to find them a home. Nikita Geer and her partner Barry McGuinness have been sharing a flat on the eleventh floor of Cú Chulainn House in the New Lodge with a family member as well as the couple’s eight week old baby son and 14 month old daughter.

The family have been living with Nikita’s brother in the flat for the past two years waiting to be housed but to no avail.

The flat has problems with damp and draughts which Nikita said was affecting her  her family’s health.

“The flat is just too small for three people and two babies, you can’t even move in it,” she said.

“We have to keep an eye out all the time in case Destiny Leigh my wee girl gets out onto the balcony.  The place is so cramped she fell over last week and hit her head on the table and gave herself a black eye. The four of us are all sleeping out of one room. It’s awful.”

Nikita handed a letter into the Housing Executive this week requesting clarity on when she might be rehoused.

“We have been here for two years and have never even had an offer, all I want to know is if they can give us somewhere because we can’t go on living like this,” she said.

A spokesperson for the HE said: “Nikita first presented as homeless in October 2010 on the grounds that she could not afford to pay the rent in her private rented accommodation.  At that time she was offered temporary accommodation but advised that she would stay with her brother, who is the tenant of the flat.  We were unable to award her homelessness status at that time as the supporting evidence that we requested was never provided.

“Nikita represented as homeless on 9 January 2012  in light of her change of circumstances and at this stage we were able to award her homelessness status.  Nikita was again offered temporary accommodation but chose to remain with her brother.  The offer of temporary accommodation is still available to the family should they wish to avail of it.

“In terms of permanent rehousing Nikita has expressed a preference for the Cavehill and Cliftonville areas, both of which are very high demand areas with few relets occurring.  We are making arrangements for a Housing Officer to visit Nikita to discuss her rehousing options as there might be other areas where she could be rehoused sooner.”

Housing inequalities further entrenched by Girdwood’

Site ‘was never going to solve North issues’

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