A DESPERATE mother-of-three is facing the possibility of being homeless in the New Year after receiving an eviction notice from her landlord.
Senior midwife Kat Jordan El Karout, 48, is just one of the thousands of parents at risk of losing their homes this winter, Shelter warns.
She told The Sun: “I have tried to convince my sons we won’t be sleeping in doorways but the fear is real.”
Rising bills, inflation and the pandemic have hit millions of families finances – but charity Shelter today warns that the number of children on the brink of homelessness is 200,000 in the UK.
The Covid pandemic and hike in living costs has created “a severe housing emergency problem,” the report revealed.
For Kat, who has lived in her rented flat in Worthing for the past three years – with her three sons aged 15, 12 and eight – it is “a living nightmare.
“I feel like I’m always on the run,” she said. “All I want to do is have a place I can call home, yet every landlord I come up against is not willing to rent to me.
“People have this picture of families who get evicted as being involved in drugs or criminal activity but I have done nothing wrong.”
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After a 20-year-career as a midwife, Kat came up against problems after splitting from her husband and having to care for her poorly father.
“I had to become a full-time carer for my father who was very unwell with Parkinson’s and dementia.
“It obviously was a huge decision I had to make but I couldn’t sit still and watch him suffer.”
Having to swap her midwife job to that of a full-time carer, Kat had to life off a £200 a month carers allowance, together with housing benefit of £800.
With her rent costing £800, her financial situation became a struggle. She has tried to apply for more government support – but is still waiting to find out if she is eligible.
“My boys are old enough to know the problems we are facing. I have tried to convince my sons we won’t be sleeping in doorways but the fear is real.”
With her landlord serving the family a no-fault eviction notice, which is where a landlord can ask you to leave without any reason if you’re outside the minimum term of your contract, that will force her out of her home on January 18, Kat is struggling to find a new one.
“Everywhere I go I come up against discrimination from estate agents and landlords. They turn their noses up at me as I claim housing benefit and have three kids.
“I feel helpless and try to be strong for the kids but they sometimes find me crying. I worked as a senior midwife bringing thousands of babies into the world and now I am looked upon as scum. It is heartbreaking.”
Kat is hoping to get back into midwifery as soon as she possibly can, now she has stepped back from caring for her father.
“If it was just me in this situation I wouldn’t care but right now it is my kids’ lives being effected.
“One of them is about to do their GCSEs, the others are settled at school and it would be so cruel to uproot them.
“It’s not just me, thousands of families are in my position as the rental prices in this city have rocketed out of control.”
Although Kat is yet to find a landlord willing to help, she is still praying something will turn up or that another dooming lockdown may gather her more time.
“Although I want the covid pandemic to be over, at least in my case it will mean a freeze on all evictions.”
More help for renters is needed
“No child should have to worry about losing their home this Christmas, let alone 200,000, “explained Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter.
The charity is calling on the government to give more support to renters this winter.
“There are so many families that will spend every day with the threat of eviction looming over them, not knowing if they will still have a home next year.
“Eviction notices have started dropping on doormats and our services are working round the clock to help families who have nowhere else to go.
“Like it has before – the government needs to intervene to keep people safe in their homes. We urgently need more support for renters to protect them from eviction this winter.
“Thousands of families are teetering on a cliff edge. It’s only with the public’s support that we’ll be able to keep answering calls and help as many of them as possible keep the bailiffs at bay.”
How to get help if you're struggling
If you're struggling to pay your rent or bills, there are ways to get help.
You can apply to your local council for financial help in paying your rent after the government announced £65million of funding for those in arrears.
And if you're on Universal Credit, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment – which gives you extra money for housing costs like rent, deposits and advances if you're moving house.
You might also be able to set up an affordable repayment plan with your landlord if you're slipping behind on payments.
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