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No action on damp house

By Kieran Hughes

A pregnant North Belfast woman who has pleaded with the Housing Executive to repair her damp sodden home says assurances made to her that the problems would be addressed have not been followed through. Julie Ann Kingham contacted the North Belfast News in January to express her concern about the damp problem in her Oldpark home and how it was affecting the health of her asthma suffering daughter Demi-Lee.

But since then Julie Ann, who is now five months pregnant, says that despite assurances to repair the damage, only minimal work has been carried out adding that a replacement kitchen window which was fixed has not been installed correctly.

In January when we visited the house, which Julie Anne shares with her partner William, Demi-Lee and five-year-old son Taylor, water was dripping from the ceiling in the rear hallway and damp was creeping up the walls in the living room and bedrooms. This week the problems were still evident and the replacement window had visible gaps between the wall and window frame.

Julie Ann believes the Housing Executive only visited her home in January to view the damage because she contacted the press.

“The last time they came out in January they promised everything but nothing has changed,” she said.

“The only reason they came out in the first place was because we went to the paper but nothing has changed. A new window was put in but there is a visible gap between the window and the wall. The house is already cold enough without this.”

She says she is seriously concerned about bring a new child into the two bedroom house in which Demi-Lee and Taylor and share a room.

“My kids are already suffering and I don’t want to bring a newborn into this house. We need something done before this wee one is born,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said they have already carried out a number of interim repairs and that there are plans to replace all internal doors and the property has been included in a window replacement scheme.

“Given Ms Kingham’s impending change of circumstances, a Housing Officer visited her on March 5 to assess her under homeless legislation,” said the spokesperson.

“She has since been awarded full duty applicant status to reflect the fact that her current home is not suitable for her needs.  She has been offered temporary accommodation but has chosen to remain in her present home. Staff in the District Office will continue to work closely with Ms Kingham and will make every effort to rehouse her as quickly as possible.”

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