Sisters facing homelessness within days fear they ‘won’t survive on the streets’

Two pensioners have revealed they are at their wits end, and fear they will “never survive on the streets” as they face being made homeless within days.

Shirley Gray, 68, and her sister Carol Fowler, 59, say they need to be urgently rehoused in County Durham, North East England, after being served a Section 21 notice weeks ago, which is used by landlords to inform tenants that they must leave the home by a certain date.

The pensioners, from South Moor, Stanley, are desperate for a plate to live after their private landlord decided to sell the property they currently rent – despite living there for three years.

Along with their dog Ziggy, the sister could now be made homeless within days, report Chronicle Live.

Now, the pair have been hopelessly bidding for properties in their local area via a site that offers homes to rent in the county – but have had no luck.

Despite their best efforts, the siblings are now living in fear that they could be on the streets within days, as they are yet to secure a property before their notice expires this weekend.

Shirley, who works in a local care home, says that every bid they make is unsuccessful, adding: “I would be dead within three days if I ended up on the streets. I’ve got COPD so there’s no way I could live outside.

“I’m so distressed, it’s awful, I can’t cope anymore.”

The 68-year-old, who is in Band 2 due to urgent housing needs, says she has submitted around seven bids for Karbon Homes properties since her current home was placed on the market.

But each time she is also left with the same outcome – bids have been rejected.

Opening up about her worries, the 68-year-old says that with each unsuccessful try, she is left more and more confused about her situation.

This is because she receives no information from the housing association or Durham County Council’s social housing team as to why her bid was rejected.

She said: “I’m putting bids in but they’re just coming back unsuccessful, but I’m not being given the reason. There’s no help.

“I put a bid in the other day and I was position one, then I moved to position three. Last week I put a bid in and I went into position 13.

“There’s houses I bid for weeks ago and was unsuccessful for that are still standing empty. I just don’t understand how it works.”

Despite also being assigned a housing officer to assist her with her property searches, Shirley says that potential homes are always too far from Stanley, and is so forced to reject them.

She explained that she is unable to drive and needs to live locally in order to be close to her job in a local care home, as well as live close to her niece, who she has been caring for since the passing of her mum in September.

The properties she has been suggested are over a hour bus ride away, with Shirley saying: “They’re trying to get me to move miles and miles out of the area.

“I was born here, I work here. I can’t move out of the area and I know there’s properties standing empty for weeks but they’re not renting the properties out.”

She added: “How would I get to and from work? I have a little job working 15 hours a week in the local care home.

“And my sister passed away in September and left my niece. Me and the sister I live with are her parents now so we need to be in the area to look after her.

“I’m so distressed, it’s awful, I can’t cope anymore. I don’t know why they’re not offering us anything close by.”

Speaking about the situation, Lynn Hall, Durham County Council’s strategic manager for housing, said: “As is the case nationwide, social housing is in extremely high demand and offers are made by priority need, with length of time waiting for a property considered when deciding who is successful with their bids.

“We are closely working with Shirley and Carol and they have an housing officer allocated to help them find new long term accommodation. This officer is exploring all options with them, with a view to finding a suitable and affordable property as soon as possible.

“These options include looking at neighbouring villages in the interests of trying to find accommodation as quickly as possible, as widening the geographical search increases the chances of success in accessing high demand social housing.”

Jonathan Fletcher, Karbon Homes’ Director of Property Service and Pre-Tenancy said: “We’re sorry to hear about Ms Gray and Ms Fowler’s current situation. I can confirm that Ms Gray has bid for a number of Karbon Homes properties through the Durham Key Options choice based lettings system.

“However, due to the number of other applicants with higher priority bandings or earlier priority dates, these bids have been unsuccessful. There is a high and ever-increasing demand for social housing properties in and around the Stanley area and we’re seeing a growth in priority queues for each of our homes that becomes available.

“We have been able to offer Ms Gray an immediately available property close to her chosen area, however this offer has been declined. We encourage her to continue bidding for properties through the choice based letting system and to contact the local authority to reassess her housing situation.”