Pregnant woman 'on brink of homelessness' after fleeing domestic abuse
- Credit: Archant
A young pregnant woman who fled her abuser to join her family in Norfolk says she is on the brink of homelessness because the council is unable find her somewhere safe to stay.
Ms X, whose name we are not revealing to protect her identity, left her council house in another county and came to Norwich in April with her child to get away from a violent partner.
Norwich City Council placed her in emergency accommodation, but she was threatened and had to leave.
According to the woman she then spent weeks sofa surfing with her child, eventually squeezing into a family member's small council house already occupied by five others.
Although Ms X admitted the council had given her alternative temporary accommodation options while her application to be housed locally was assessed, she said these were too far away and weren't safe for her or her child.
Due to severe health conditions, she relies on family for childcare and needs to be close to her medical provider.
"One option they gave me was within the greater Norwich area, but still a long way from family, and the other two were Suffolk and Wales", she said.
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"The stress is making me physically sick. I'm terrified of ending up on the streets because I can't stay in this house much longer."
A Norwich City Council spokesperson said: "Domestic abuse is a serious and complex issue, and we know how incredibly difficult it is for people experiencing these situations.
"As well as helping people find a safe place to live, we are committed to supporting those living with domestic abuse and raising awareness of the types of behaviour presented within these relationships.
"For safeguarding reasons, we are unable to comment on this specific case, and our offer of safe temporary accommodation remains open while we work with the individual and other agencies involved to find a suitable long-term solution."
But for Chris Wood, assistant director at homelessness charity Shelter, the pandemic has clearly exposed a national shortage of social housing across the UK, and shone a spotlight on the reality of abuse victims fleeing to another local authority only to find themselves homeless.
He said: "Government 'benefit caps' and the high cost of renting and lack of decent, genuinely affordable social homes can force survivors to choose between staying in an unsafe situation or becoming homeless in order to leave an abusive partner. "