St Albans family's housing crisis

PUBLISHED: 12:59 04 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:24 06 May 2010

THE plight of a family living in an overcrowded one- bedroom flat in St Albans has drawn attention to the severe lack of council accommodation available in St Albans. Michelle Hayes, 32, and her partner Michael Smith, 43, are sharing a one bedroom housing

THE plight of a family living in an overcrowded one- bedroom flat in St Albans has drawn attention to the severe lack of council accommodation available in St Albans.

Michelle Hayes, 32, and her partner Michael Smith, 43, are sharing a one bedroom housing association flat in Cairns Close, St Albans, with their month-old baby daughter Danielle and Michael's 15-year-old son Jack from a previous relationship.

Michelle, a florist on maternity leave, said: "Jack's a six footer who has to sleep on a couch in the lounge while the rest of us are squeezed into the bedroom with all the baby stuff. We can't even fit a cot in there.

"My stepson has nowhere to do his homework."

Her partner Michael, who works long hours as a gardener, had a stroke in February but cannot afford to cut back on his hours.

Michelle, who was born and bred in St Albans, and Michael have been together for 14 years and tried for a long time to have their own child but the worry has marred her enjoyment of their new daughter.

A St Albans council spokesperson said: "Unfortunately, St Albans has a shortage of housing and many applicants waiting for housing. We currently have over 300 families waiting for three-bedroom accommodation and since May this year when our choice-based letting system went live, we have advertised 13 three-bedroom properties. There are many people who have been waiting for a significantly longer period than Ms Hayes."

She explained that the housing banding in which Ms Hayes was at the moment reflected a high need.

But Ms Hayes said there were two higher bands and it was only people in those who had any chance of getting shortlisted for one of the properties.

She said: "I know it's not right but it does make you wonder what you have to do to get yourself moved up the list? We - and hundreds like us - are caught in a trap and can't see any way out.

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