mouse

Family sleeping in one room in apartment where children believe mice are family pets

Moving to a new country, especially as a refugee, is very difficult. It is even harder with children. The Eders family knows this first-hand, having fled war-torn Somalia nine years ago. Now a family of six, they are still struggling with poverty. Their situation is made worse by their terrible living conditions. They are sleeping all in one room because of the unbearable dampness of the other rooms, there is mold on the walls, and the younger children think the mice are pets. 

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Family of Six Living In Horrendous Conditions

Nine years ago, Falhado Eders, her husband, and their young child Yussef escaped the constant danger of their war-torn home country of Somalia. They fled to Hull, England, hoping to start a better, safer life for their family. When they first arrived, their home was not so bad. They continued with their lives, having three other children. Their living conditions, however, slowly and then all at once began to deteriorate. (1)

Today, their home is a living hell. You can see mold growing on the walls and windowsills. The damp has become so bad that they generally all sleep in the same room because the other room makes it hard to breathe. There are so many mice that the smaller children think the mice are like family pets. 

The conditions are so bad that Falhado says she believes it is what caused her to lose their baby boy during childbirth last year. Throughout the pregnancy, she was very unwell and developed breathing problems. She believes that her health, due to their living conditions, is what caused them to lose the baby.

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“During my pregnancy at the end of 2020 and 2021 I had developed breathing problems and it was clearly from the damp in the property,” she explained. “The flat was definitely not a safe hygienic place to be in for a pregnant woman.”

Their oldest child, Yussef, has developed breathing difficulties and also has itchy skin. They took him to the doctor, who confirmed that it is because of their living conditions. She says that they would almost be better off sleeping outside. At least there, she says, the air would be fresh.

Read: Mom says son has to ‘live in cupboard’ as family-of-10 cramped in 3-bed house

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Nothing Done

Falhado says that she has called the council many times but to no avail. There are several repairs that need to be done, as well. Despite her repeated requests, she says, they have gone unfixed.

A spokesperson for Hull City Council, however, says that they have not received any requests. They said that someone went to the home last year to treat the walls with a fungal wash for the damp. Beyond that, however, they say no complaints have been made.

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“No further repairs were identified. Consequently, we are contacting “the tenant” to arrange an appointment for contractors to attend,” they said. “The only ‘live’ request we have for repairs is for our contractor to look at cold draughts coming through the front door, and an appointment has already been arranged for May 17.”

They also said that the council explained to her that they were working on resolving rodent problems. On top of that, they gave her advice as to how she could solve the problem herself. Falhado has been putting bids to move to bigger houses, which the council says they have been helping her with. So far none of her bids have been successful. The council says that they have reached out to try and help her more with a successful bid.

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The Complexity of Poverty

Poverty is a complex topic and is also hard to define. Many will argue on what constitutes poverty and therefore writing an exact definition is hard. (2) Many families like Falhado’s are not living in homes like this out of choice, but out of necessity. They have fled countries with no opportunities, arrived in a new one and had to start completely over not just from zero, but really, below zero. As a refugee, climbing out of poverty is a tough thing to do.

This is made worse by the housing crisis across the UK. There are few homes available and the cost of one keeps going higher and higher. (3) Sadly, it is essentially the same across the globe.

In the United States, the outlook on poverty is not much different. Many of those affected, too, are children. They grow up in poverty, which continues the cycle as they have fewer opportunities than wealthier children. (4)

This is made more complicated by the fact that housing in the United States, just as in the UK, has also become increasingly unaffordable. The situation of affordable housing, or at the least families who are just barely able to afford rent, was made even worse by the pandemic. Even formerly more affordable neighborhoods in most cities, albeit also more dangerous, have also become more expensive. Vanessa Torres of a neighborhood in Oakland known as “The Deep East” is very concerned as prices continue to rise.

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“This is the ‘hood. If low-income Latinos can’t afford it anymore, well where do we go? If we can no longer afford to live in low-income communities that are considered dangerous, that are considered poor, then where do we see ourselves?” she said. (5)

A Need For Solutions

If there’s anything that’s evident, it’s that we need solutions – in the United Kingdom, in the United States, and basically every other mid- to major city in the world. More government investments in affordable housing increases to minimum wage, and meaningful rent control will help. Social housing, such as that in Denmark, could also be another solution. It will have to be a combination of a variety of these options that will solve the problem. This way fewer families like the Eders will be forced to live in such horrible, health-harming conditions.

Keep Reaidng: UK Dad Turns Off Lights and Lives in Dark. Doesn’t Use Hot Water as Bills Soar.

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Sources

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  1. Family of six sleeping in one room in flat from hell where mice are so common children think they are familyHull Live. May 12, 2022.
  2. Poverty in the UK: a guide to the facts and figures.” Full Fact. September 27, 2019.
  3. Why does the UK have a housing crisis?Big Issue. Liam Geraghty. February 28, 2022.
  4. The Population of Poverty USA.” Poverty USA
  5. Affordable housing in the US is increasingly scarce, making renters ask: Where do we go?The Conversation. March 14, 2022.
Julie Hambleton
Freelance Writer
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.
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