A homeless single mum and her four-year-old son have been stuck in a cramped hostel bedroom for almost a year.
Olivia McClelland, 22, has been bidding on council houses for more than 18 months without luck because she was always in a queue behind 200 to 3,000 people deemed a higher priority.
The Birmingham mum and son Noah have spent both national coronavirus lockdowns living in a 3x4ft room in a homeless family shelter and they are desperate to move into a home of their own with more space.
They have been given hope that they may be in their own place in time for Christmas, which would be the “best present”, after Olivia was given higher priority and she received the phone call she had been waiting for, BirminghamLive reports.
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Olivia, from Acocks Green, said: “I got a call from a woman at the council to say I’d been shortlisted and I literally screamed down the phone.
“I couldn’t believe it. I just went whaaa! It was such a relief. It’s been a nightmare.
“I’d seen my bid making it to single figures and had my hopes raised and dashed. I’d been really close to getting a place in Sutton Coldfield recently but at the last minute it was given to someone else.
“I had realised there was no point in looking at the numbers online so it was a really nice surprise when I got my phone call.”
She is hoping to move into the two-bedroom flat in Kings Heath this month.
Olivia added: “Kings Heath is a nice place, I hope the flat is nice too but I’ll make it my own, whatever, I’m looking forward to doing that.
“I told Noah we’d got a place but he doesn’t really understand. I don’t think he’ll realise what’s going on until we move out of here and don’t come back.
“It’s going to make such a difference to him. He’s been such a good boy, it’s been hard living in a hostel.”
The Daily Mirror is calling on Boris Johnson to hike child benefit by £5 a week to end the scourge of child poverty.
Without action the number of kids in poverty in the UK is set to rise from 4.1million to 5.2million in the next two years.
Our Give Me Five campaign wants an immediate increase in child benefit – a move that would lift 200,000 children out of destitution. Our campaign is backed by charities, politicians and union leaders.
Olivia has been on the housing register awaiting a council property since 2017. Moving in with her dad made her a very low priority, and she and Noah became homeless when he moved house in January.
The mum and son moved into a B&B and then a homeless family shelter, where they have been ever since.
Olivia said:”When we first moved into the B&B I was scared, I didn’t know what was going to happen.
“On the first night there was a couple arguing outside my door and boy racers going up and down the road, I’d never heard anything like it.
“Then we were told we were moving into a homeless family shelter so I carried everything we owned on the bus, my lamp, my TV, pillows and all my bits and bobs. How the pram wasn’t broken, I don’t know.”
She added: “I just hope there’s not another lockdown to slow everything down. I really hope the move happens soon, it will be amazing if we can be in there before Christmas.
“I’m number one so it means it’s mine, I just haven’t seen it yet. It means we’re finally getting out of the hostel, we’ve been so desperate to do that. I’m hoping we might be in before Christmas, that would be the best Christmas present.
“Noah will be able to stay at the same nursery. I’ve done a route plan and it’ll take about the same time to get there as it will from here. But when it comes to looking for a school for next September, we’ll have more choice which will be good.”
Olivia never imagined she would end up homeless.
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She said: “I got a B and C in English GCSEs. My dad was a train driver and my mum was a midwife. But it can happen to anyone.
“I’d say to anyone to be grateful for what you have. The number of stories you see of people complaining about the council property they have. I’d say just be grateful because you could find yourself in a situation like this.”
A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: “The properties that Birmingham City Council has available are advertised on the Birmingham Choice website during weekly bidding cycles which run from 12am Thursday to 11.59pm Monday.
“Those who are on Birmingham City Council’s Housing Register can register their interest in the properties, by placing bids, advertised at any point during this timeframe.
“A person’s excepted bid position is dictated by their banding award, followed by their award date.
“As those on Birmingham City Council’s Housing Register can bid for properties at any time during a bidding cycle, the excepted bid positions that are shown on people’s accounts can change during the cycle.
“This is particularly the case the closer to the end of the bidding cycle an advert gets; as more people will have chance to bid for it and their circumstances may mean they have a higher banding award or have been on the housing register for a longer period of time.”