My name is Chelsea, I am 18 years old and currently living in temporary accommodation with Oxford City Council. I live with my husband Tommy and our 9-month-old baby girl. I am also currently 28 weeks pregnant with our second child.
We have had to move out of our parents’ house as it was so overcrowded. So, in January, we went to the council and they provided us with temporary accommodation in Bicester. This meant that we had to move away from all of our family, but we did not really have a choice as this was the only place that they could find. During this time, we were initially put on housing benefit, but then were told that we were eligible for Universal Credit, and so applied to make the switch.
However, during the transition between the two, we were given no support or advice regarding what this change to our benefits would mean. As we were kept in the dark, we unfortunately began to amass significant rent arrears of nearly £3000, which meant that the council gave us an order for our eviction. When we went to court, the judge refused to allow us to be evicted as he acknowledged that the arrears which we had built up were the result of changes to our benefits, which were not our fault, and which we had not been properly informed about.
The judge also acknowledged how hard we were working to pay back our arrears. My husband works and we have been very engaged with the support services offered to us. However, as my husband is on a low wage, this has meant that we have had to stick to a very strict budget in order to pay off our arrears. While this has enabled to pay off some of our debt, we are living in constant fear that the block on the eviction order could be rescinded, and with another baby on the way, we are worried that we will not be able to continue to pay them off at the same rate.
As a result, we are asking for the remaining £1750, to allow us to pay off our arrears in full. We are currently at risk of homelessness, despite having done everything that we can to pay off our debts as quickly as possible. Half of the money will be provided to us by a local hardship fund, but we are reliant on the other half being funded by the general public.
If we were able to raise this money, we would be able to feel more secure in our accommodation. Once our debts are paid off, we can look forward to the birth of our second child, and feel assured in the knowledge that we will have enough money to provide our baby with everything that they need. We would be incredibly grateful to anybody who is willing to help us in this difficult time.