A LOCAL family has spoken out against the lack of housing for families living with a disability in Bridlington.
Simon Malone, who is paralysed from the chest down after a motorcycle accident, his wife Jenni, and their 10 and 12-year-old sons currently live in private rented accomodation in Bridlington, adapted to allow the use of Simon’s wheelchair.
As the owner is looking to move back into the property in August, Mr and Mrs Malone have turned to the council to help them find a new home - but are worried that council procedures, which they say “lack common sense”, could see them homeless.
“We just want to live as a family, we were very lucky that this property came up to rent privately when we came back to Bridlington last year,” said Jenni, 30, who suffers from epilepsy and moved back to the town from Bradford - where the family had lived while Simon received treatment at a nearby hospital - to be near her support network of family and friends.
“The boys were turning into our full time carers which just isn’t right. They are fantastic boys but they deserve a childhood like anyone else, so we moved back here.”
The family moved into the property last year, paying an extra £180 above their housing allowance themselves, after the council had been unable to find them any suitable adapted housing.
According to Mr and Mrs Malone, when a family in private accomodation are in need of rehousing, the council begins to assess whether they have a duty of care to rehouse them just 28 days before they are due to leave. Once this process is complete, the council then has a further four weeks to find temporary accomodation - time that the Malone family doesn’t have.
“We didn’t want to get into a situation where we were living here after the date we had been asked to move by the landlord,” said Simon, 36.
“We would have been breaking the law and might have had to go to court - which we don’t want and can’t afford.
“We notified the council as soon as we heard we would have to leave, to give everyone enough time to try and sort something.”
Mr and Mrs Malone also believe that the council could improve the way they communicate with families suffering from a disability.
“We need a family home that is adapted for Simon to live in. At a housing meeting we were told that three bedroom properties ‘are reserved for families’,” said Jenni.
“We felt as though we were being discriminated against, we are a family but we just have slightly different needs.”
Mr and Mrs Malone also say that the current adapted housing stock in the town is not suitable for families, including new adapted council properties recently built off Nostell Way.
“The new adapted bungalows are aimed at the elderly, with a wet room and adapted kitchen downstairs, and accomodation for a carer upstairs,” continued Jenni.
“They are not suitable for a family, even little things that people take for granted like eating a meal together, or for Simon to play with the kids, we wouldn’t be able to do. Despite this, we have been told by the council that we would have to choose whether we wanted ‘to adapt’ to this type of property.”
Paul Bellotti, head of housing and public protection at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “As always, we will do what we can to assist. Unfortunately, the council does not currently have a home suitable for their family needs.
“The number of requests we have for council housing far outstrips the vacant homes we have available.
“We try our best to help people living with disabilities. Indeed, the council carried out significant adaptations to a previous council property Mr Malone lived in, but which he left in 2008.
“We will continue to stay in contact with Mr and Mrs Malone and will take every reasonable step we can to assist in the future.”
Before their move to Bradford in 2008, Simon was forced to live alone in an adapted flat, across the street from Jenni and his children.
Simon continued: “I had a kitchen that had been adapted for me to use in the flat, but this was ripped out when I moved out. It just lacks common sense, why not keep the housing stock that the council has already paid to be adapted?
“Nobody is asking the council to go and build a new house for us, but there are properties that could be adapted so that we can continue to live as a family.
“We would both like to thank Coun Geoff Pickering, who was the only local councillor who tried to help us and support our case.”