After a homeless mother turned down council accommodation, she and her four children are forced to live in one tiny room.
24-year-old, Toni Bell, was offered an all-expenses paid place at a bed and breakfast but said she turned it down because she didn’t want her four children to ‘go without’.
The mother, instead, chose to move into the spare bedroom of her parents’ £220,000 home in Edinburgh while she waits to be moved up the housing list.
The mother, who is a former hairdresser, is unemployed due to health reasons, now shares a bed with her eldest daughter while her baby triplets sleep in three Moses baskets on the floor next to the radiator.
Homeless Toni Bell, 24, was offered a space at a bed & breakfast by her council but didn’t want to move there as she didn’t want her children to ‘go without’
She said that she wants the council to move them into proper accommodation big enough for her whole family.
Miss Bell said: ‘I have been told I can go into a B&B and I would be in there for weeks up to months before moving to temporary accommodation when I could be told to leave at any point.
‘I don’t want my children in a B&B. I need cooking facilities and to be able to make bottles for my babies. I’m not letting my kids go without.’
The mother said that she can’t live with the father of her four children as he lived in a small one-bedroom flat which was not suitable for them all.
The single mother was forced to give up work after suffering a rare bone condition.
The unemployed mother spends her days tending to her four children’s needs and added it is almost impossible to leave the house.
Instead the mother-of-four chose to move into her parents’ spare room and share a bed with her three-year-old daughter while her triplets sleep in moses baskets
She also suffers from a crippling bone condition called Léri-Weill dyschondrosteosis which has left her with shortened leg bones, pain and limits wrist movement.
The hairdresser added: ‘I hate being on benefits, but I have had no choice. Some days are good, others are bad.
‘We live in a third floor flat and I have to climb six flights of stairs to get there with four children.
‘I have to take the buggy to the bottom of the stairs and then bring the children down one by one. Sometimes with my disorder I struggle even to lift them.’
She used to live in a temporary accommodation until her landlord sold the house where she was staying, resulting in her going to her mother’s flat.
She has been living in her mother’s flat and cannot live with her children’s father because he has a one-bed flat
Ms Bell added: ‘I need a three-bedroom house I can share with my children. I need to give them the home and stability they deserve.
‘Before I moved in, my relationship with my mum was really good. Now it is really strained.
‘I feel like I am letting myself and my triplets down on babyhood. I feel like they haven’t had the same as my toddler did when she was a baby.
‘We have no highchair, bouncy chair or cots for them because I simply don’t have the room.’
She moved to her mother’s council flat temporarily while she was pregnant with the triplets, who were born six weeks premature.
Audit Scotland estimates it costs local authorities £27million a year extra providing people with temporary B&B accommodation rather than a permanent home.
A hairdresser by trade, her last job was as an administrator for the Scottish Mediation Network before having to give it up during her first pregnancy.
‘However, he lives in a one-bedroom flat so he doesn’t have the accommodation either.
‘I need permanent accommodation so I have some stability for my children. They deserve so much better.’
Councillor Gavin Barrie, convener of Edinburgh council’s housing and economy committee, admitted that the city struggled to keep up with demand.
He said: ‘We have a range of housing advice services to help people who are looking for a home or are looking to move.
‘However, three-bedroom properties are much sought after and become available less frequently.
‘The challenge of securing affordable homes in Scotland is particularly acute in the capital.
‘Almost 170 households bid for every council and housing association home available to let in Edinburgh.
‘With the city’s population forecast to grow by almost 30 per cent over the next 20 years, keeping up with demand will become increasingly difficult.
‘To address these concerns, the council is working with our partners and already delivering on what is one of the most ambitious housing plans in the UK following the capital coalition’s pledge to build 20,000 homes in the next ten years.
‘Work is under way to achieve these ambitious commitments, with over 2,000 affordable homes under construction on 33 sites in the city.’