A young mum has been forced live in a tiny room with her for children — leaving her triplet babies in baskets on the floor and sharing a bed with her other daughter.
Toni Bell, 24, is on the waiting list for council housing and has been left with no other option than to cram her young family into her mum’s spare room.
The stress of the situation has left her with long days and sleepless nights as she shares a bed with her eldest daughter in the third-floor two-bedroom flat.
The young mum spends her days tending to her four children’s needs and said it was almost impossible to leave the house – a situation she is desperate to change.
Toni, from Edinburgh, said: “I feel sick about the whole situation. There’s is no room and it’s not the environment you want to be bringing your children up in.
“A three-year-old shouldn’t be sharing a bed with her mum and five people shouldn’t be staying in one room.
“My triplets are sleeping in Moses baskets on the floor and are quickly outgrowing them.
“There’s no room for a cot – you can’t even see the floor in the room.
“It’s getting to the time when they all will need the bed and I’ll be on the floor.
“I hate being on benefits, but I have had no choice. Some days are good, others are bad.
“We live in a third floor flat and I have to climb six flights of stairs to get there with four children.
“I have to take the buggy to the bottom of the stairs and then bring the children down one by one. Sometimes with my disorder I struggle even to lift them.”
Toni also suffers from a crippling bone condition called Léri-Weill dyschondrosteosis
which has left her with shortened leg bones, pain and limits wrist movement.
She is part of the ever-increasing demand for social housing in Edinburgh, with almost 170 applications bidding for every home available in the city.
Toni was living in temporary accommodation until her landlord sold the house where she was staying, resulting in her going to her mum’s.
Toni’s relationship with her mum is at breaking point and she now feels the council needs to act so she can properly provide for her children.
She said: “I need a three bedroom house I can share with my children. I need to give them the home and stability they deserve.
“Before I moved in, my relationship with my mum was really good. Now it is really strained.
“I feel like I am letting myself and my triplets down on babyhood. I feel like they haven’t had the same as my toddler did when she was a baby.
“We have no highchair, bouncy chair or cots for them because I simply don’t have the room. ”
Toni was only meant to temporarily move into her mum’s council flat while she was pregnant with the triplets, who were born six weeks premature.
Audit Scotland estimates it costs local authorities £27 million a year extra providing people with temporary B&B accommodation rather than a permanent home.
A hairdresser by trade, Toni’s last job was as an administrator for the Scottish Mediation Network before having to give it up during her first pregnancy.
She added: “I have been told I can go into a B&B and I would be in there for weeks up to months before moving to temporary accommodation when I could be told to leave at any point.
“I don’t want my children in a B&B. I need cooking facilities and to be able to make bottles for my babies. I’m not letting my kids go without.
“The father of my children is brilliant and he comes round to see them three or four times a week.
“However, he lives in a one-bedroom flat so he doesn’t have the accommodation either.
“I need permanent accommodation so I have some stability for my children. They deserve so much better.”
Councillor Gavin Barrie, convener of Edinburgh council’s housing and economy committee, admitted that the city struggled to keep up with demand.
He said: “We have a range of housing advice services to help people who are looking for a home or are looking to move.
“However, three-bedroom properties are much sought after and become available less frequently.
“The challenge of securing affordable homes in Scotland is particularly acute in the Capital.
“Almost 170 households bid for every council and housing association home available to let in Edinburgh.
“With the city’s population forecast to grow by almost 30 per cent over the next 20 years, keeping up with demand will become increasingly difficult.
“To address these concerns, the council is working with our partners and already delivering on what is one of the most ambitious housing plans in the UK following the capital coalition’s pledge to build 20,000 homes in the next ten years.
“Work is under way to achieve these ambitious commitments, with over 2,000 affordable homes under construction on 33 sites in the city.”