Backlog leaves abused mum homeless

Mark Lazarowicz. Picture: Jane Barlow

Mark Lazarowicz. Picture: Jane Barlow

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A MOTHER who suffered domestic abuse has been left homeless since February as housing chiefs try to tackle a six-week backlog in processing applications.

The 50-year-old woman, who asked not to be named, has been living in a homeless hostel since February 18 after fleeing her partner.

She was told the backlog meant the council was unlikely to be able to process her case and give her a crucial “EdIndex” number – allowing her to bid for council or housing association properties – until early next month.

She said: “They told me I would just have to wait.”

But within hours of the Evening News contacting the council about her case, she was sent a number and can now try for a house.

The council tells people wanting a house they aim to process their applications within five days.

The woman, who has four grown-up children, said she had filled in the required form with a housing officer on February 19, but was told early in March that she needed to fill in another form and write a covering letter saying she was no longer with her partner.

When she heard nothing more, she contacted the housing department and was told they had not received the form until March 24 and her period of homelessness would count from then.

She said: “I got a letter saying there was a backlog of six weeks in processing the forms, but they were putting in extra resources to get it cleared.”

She said she was anxious to get a house as soon as she could because one of her sons was ill and awaiting treatment for hepatitis. “He needs me to be somewhere secure so he can come and I can look after him.”

People applying for a council or housing association house in Edinburgh do so through the EdIndex system. Once they have been accepted as eligible, they are issued with an “EdIndex” number which allows them to bid for specific properties.

The woman said she was delighted finally to have been given the EdIndex number. But she added: “It’s ridiculous it takes a call to the Evening News before you can apply for a council house.

“I won’t be the only person who is having this problem.”

Edinburgh North and Leith Labour MP Mark Lazarowicz said he had raised the issue with the city council after the woman contacted him.

“I’m obviously concerned about the difficulties she has had. I’m told the council has put in more resources to try to clear the backlog and hopefully that will indeed happen.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We can’t comment on individual cases. However, there is an exceptionally high demand for housing in Edinburgh.

“Additionally, there has been an increase in applications in the last few months. Extra resources have now been allocated to clear the applications still to be processed.”