Damp hits home of young family

A Derry mother has been forced to send her children to stay with relatives because of extreme damp and sub zero temperatures inside her home.

Antoinette Smith, a mother of two, is currently living in an property owned by Apex Housing in Barnewall Place off Spencer Road.

Barnewall Place resident Antoinette Smith shows Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey some of the dampness in her home this week. DER0315MC052

Barnewall Place resident Antoinette Smith shows Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey some of the dampness in her home this week. DER0315MC052

The local woman this week allowed the Journal access to her home where she pointed out extremely damp conditions including water running down the walls of her childrens’ bedrooms.

“I can’t put up with this anymore,” Ms. Smith told the Journal.

“I’ve done everything I can including putting oil in the tank and trying to keep the house warm but it’s all a waste of time. Now to get rid of the damp smell I have to keep the windows opened and you can see your breath in front of you. The house is so cold. Last week my daughter was hospitalised with Bronchitis and my son is registered disabled with a learning difficulty. We just can’t live like this anymore.”

Ms. Smith claimed she had contacted her housing association Apex several times to make them aware of the issue but that it had worsened significantly over the past number of months.

Foyle SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey, who visited the Barnewall Place property on Wednesday, said Ms. Smith and her family should be a priority for being rehoused.

He said: “Unfortunately this case is not unique to Derry. The housing situation in the city is bleak to say the least, it is in fact the most common issue we deal with day to day. When one encounters a young family, who are already living with such profound needs as young Dylan and then his sister Sophia is hospitalised, in what were ultimately avoidable circumstances, it is just simply heartbreaking.

“This young woman is understandably at her wits end. Anyone who visits their home could see that it is not suitable for anyone, especially young disabled children. I would again, politely, ask Antoinette’s Housing Association to ensure all necessary repairs are carried out immediately.”

When approached about the issue, Apex confirmed that someone had visited the house this week but would only say that investigations were ongoing into the problem and would not be drawn on the general condition of the property.

In a statement, the housing association said: “The Association does not comment on individual cases. However Apex wishes to confirm that a visit took place at this property on 20/1/2015. Further investigations are ongoing to address the issues mentioned and our Property Services staff will be in contact with our tenant.”

For a video to view the extent of the damp problem at the Barnewall Place house, see www.derryjournal.com