'Traumatised' mum who lived in 'disgusting Birmingham hotel room' has important message

Stock photo of a silhouette portrait of a woman
-Credit: (Image: Nick Wilkinson/Birmingham Live)

A Birmingham mum has issued a plea ahead of the general election after “shameful” figures revealed that thousands of children are living in temporary accommodation. After being evicted from her private rental and becoming homeless, the woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she found herself living in a “disgusting” hotel room with mould and insect infestations with her children.

She claims at one point during her time there, they kept seeing black spots on the floor and assumed it was just coming off their shoes. However, they then started seeing red bumps over their skin and the GP soon confirmed they were bedbug bites.

“It looked nice when we were first shown the link, but it turned out to be anything but,” the mum said. She says the conditions were so bleak that she refused to use the water there and had to shower at her family members’ homes elsewhere in Birmingham.

READ MORE: Five parties' election promises on housing as thousands in Birmingham wait for new home

“It’s affected me because I got sold that it was something suitable for living for me and my children,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS). “It’s traumatised me. I’m gutted that [my children] will always be able to remember living there.”

They stayed in the hotel for several months before finally being moved into better quality temporary accommodation. However, the mum is still searching for a home on Birmingham City Council’s housing register and has urged Brum’s future MPs to “pull their finger out” and work with the local authority to provide more social housing.

Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, is also calling for action to address the “dire shortage of social homes and sky-high private rents” in the city. According to its analysis of government figures from towards the end of 2023, a worrying 9,838 children were living in temporary accommodation in Brum.

Gareth Webber, service manager at Shelter Birmingham, told the LDRS that more social housing was “key” and should be a priority for Birmingham MPs. He continued that it was "shameful" that so many children in Birmingham were “being exposed to the horror of homelessness”.

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“Every day we hear from families in Brum who are packed like sardines into grotty and often dangerous temporary accommodation or struggling to cobble together enough money to cover another extortionate rent increase,” he said. “Meanwhile the well of social homes in the city is quickly running dry and families’ best hopes for a secure home are being dashed.”

“Lip service will not cut it this time,” Mr Webber added. “Ahead of the general election, all political candidates in Birmingham must make ironclad commitments to build genuinely affordable social homes - this is the only way to end the nightmare of homelessness for good.”

What Birmingham City Council (BCC) said

The council said the country is in the grip of a “severe national housing crisis” and that demand for accommodation in Birmingham has never been higher. "Since 2019, we have seen an increase in homelessness presentations of around 70 per cent,” a spokesperson for BCC said.

“Currently, Birmingham has around 25,000 people on the housing register seeking a home. Several factors have contributed to this unprecedented increase in demand for housing.

“The cost-of-living crisis has meant more people are presenting as homeless. Rises in rents mean the private rented sector has become unaffordable for many". The council went on to say that it is doing “all it can” to build new, warm, safe and sustainable homes, and continues to build social housing at several sites across the city.

“However, the scale of the national crisis means that the current rate of house building is not keeping up with the current level of demand,” a spokesperson for the local authority acknowledged. “The accommodation shortage severely restricts what options we can offer to people in need, and we know many people across the city are in difficult situations and facing a long wait for a home.

Birmingham's ever-changing city centre skyline
Birmingham's ever-changing city centre skyline -Credit:Nick Wilkinson/Birmingham Live

"We'd encourage any citizens in housing need to look at all options, including applying to Housing Associations and seeking a home in the private rented sector". On the concerns over the quality of temporary accommodation on offer, the council said it carries out inspections on a regular basis.

“If we find that the accommodation does not meet acceptable standards, we will no longer use the premises,” the council spokesperson said. “When households move into a B&B or hotel, we inform the household of the standards we expect a hotel or B&B to meet.

“We follow up on every report made to us that tells us that these standards are not being met.”

What the government said

Earlier this year in April, the government said it was making good progress but acknowledged there was “more work to do” to tackle homelessness and eradicate rough sleeping. It went on to say it was investing £2.4 billion over three years (from 2022/23 to 2024/25) to address the issue, which included reducing the number of people in temporary accommodation and providing councils with £1.2 billion to help people into secure housing.

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said at the time: “We want everyone to have a safe place to call home, which is why we’re giving councils £1.2 billion so that they can give financial support to those who need it, helping them to find a new home and move out of temporary accommodation. Temporary accommodation is a vital safety net to make sure families are not left without a roof over their heads, but councils must make sure it is suitable for families who have a right to appeal if it’s not.”

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