A mum-of-six says her evicted family are being forced to choose between moving miles away or face homelessness – all while she is battling cancer.
Shirley McPadden claims she was offered “much higher rent for a ****hole” by Birmingham City Council, and is now desperately trying to find alternative housing.
The struggling 40-year-old says her family – who have lived in the privately-rented home on Walsall Road, Great Bar, for 11 years – were initially offered a hostel Edgbaston and then a house in Newtown – six miles away from her children’s schools.
She says landlords are refusing to take them on as tenants due to her aggressive breast cancer, and claims that one even replied “we don’t want cancer in our property”.
Meanwhile, an offer for a more suitable property in Erdington was swiftly withdrawn, Birmingham Live reports.
She claimed the option of a temporary address in Melbourne Avenue, Newtown, would mean “much higher rent for a ****hole”.
The upheaval risked harming her treatment, she said, and she feared her family would end up sleeping in a car.
“I understand I need to leave my property,” she said. “But I have triple negative breast cancer and I have been told by the consultant I need to rest for my treatment to work.
“The council phoned on Wednesday, May 4, and talked about hostels again. I said I wouldn’t go in them. Then the woman said there was temporary accommodation in Melbourne Avenue.
“If I don’t take it, they are discharging me from their services. It is dispersed accommodation for a minimum of six months but we can’t take our furniture as they are furnished so I have to pay for storage on top of the £912-a-month. It’s for homeless people who have nothing. It’s much higher rent for a ****hole.”
Shirley was diagnosed with breast cancer in January and was in hospital two months later when her husband, Shayne, told her they were being evicted because urgent repairs were needed to their home.
Unable to find replacement private accommodation, she turned to the council but said she was offered a hostel in Hagley Road, Edgbaston.
A later offer of a four-bedroom home in Erdington bit the dust, Shirley said, leaving her running out of options.
Shirley was keen to stay near their current home, with her 14-year-old a pupil at Streetly Academy in Sutton Coldfield and her daughter attending Christ the King Primary School in Kingstanding.
Her children are aged 22, 20, 14, 11, seven and nine months – and they all still live at home.
“My daughter and I called estate agents,” she said. “We had a reference from our landlord to say we are good people and always pay our rent.
“But when the agents looked at me with no hair and tubes in my body and in my arm they turned us down. One said: ‘We don’t want cancer in our property’. No estate agent would touch us with a barge pole.
“So we contacted the council on March 22. We had never had to use them before. The council wanted us to go to Edgbaston into a B&B on Hagley Road, which was just two rooms and with a shared bathroom. With my condition, I didn’t want to share.
“I was then offered a four-bedroom house in Fern Road, Erdington, three weeks ago. So I stopped calling around. The officer said: ‘You can relax, we have got you a house’. But then we found it had been offered to someone else.”
Shirley said her family was then told they must take the property in Melbourne Avenue or risk being ‘discharged’ from the council’s housing help and being made homeless.
But the inner-city property is almost five miles from one of her children’s primary schools and more than six miles from another’s secondary school.
It also is an upside-down house, with a toilet on a different floor from the living accommodation, which Shirley said would be difficult to use when she underwent chemotherapy.
She said: “I’m going to struggle to do the school run from there. Also the toilet’s on a different level. It’s an upside down house. When I have chemo I can’t move.
“They want you to be destitute, scared and desperate and then take anything. It is temporary accommodation and I will have to move again but I am not up to it.”
A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: “We are sorry to hear this family is being made homeless from a private property. A housing officer has been in touch with them and, due to the emergency situation, they were offered bed and breakfast.
“In order to help the person find alternative accommodation our private rented sector team have been actively looking for suitable properties.
“They have sourced one which we believe is suitable. Birmingham City Council encourages anyone who thinks they may be made homeless to come to us as early as possible so we can help prevent this.”
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