Eviction from ‘dream home’ looms large for family of five

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A mother of four children, including a severely autistic nine-year-old, is facing an uncertain Christmas, after learning she’s set to lose her dream home.

Amanda McEwen, who is originally from Craigavon, moved into the rental property at Lower Toberhewney in Lurgan with the aim of renovating the two storey house, but in January she learned that the bank was set to take the house off her landlord.

At this point she downed tools and since then they’ve been living in a shell of a house with no heat and hot water.

It was confirmed in September Amanda and her four children - Stephanie (18), Bradley (11), Sebastian (9) and Tristan (4) - would be evicted, but as yet they haven’t been given a date.

With finances tight in the lead up to Christmas Amanda has been priced out of most private rentals and she has been unable to get onto a Housing Executive waiting list due to the fact that she’s isn’t officially homeless.

Amanda survives on Disability Living Allowance due to a number of health problems including pelvic arthropathy, arthritis in her hip and neck and chronic asthma.

Her husband Stephen is the primary carer for their son Sebastian who has autism spectrum disorder and global development delay.

He can’t communicate verbally and still requires nappies at the age of nine.

Amanda (35) explained: “The reason I took this house was because Bradley was going to start Lurgan Junior High, Stephanie was round the corner from Wade Training and her boyfriend is round the other corner and my sister’s just down the road so it’s easy to get to everybody.

“I love the space, I love how big it is. It’s my dream home. Straight away I could see how I would decorate it.

“Sebastian loves running about. We’ve so much room here for him to run about.”

Amanda, who also has a dog and a number of exotic pets including snakes and lizards, added: “I’ve heard other people with similar stories to me. I’ve looked at private housing, but it’s like applying for a job you’re never going to get.

“If I do get into a private house the expense will mean it’s going to be a case of a crappy Christmas but a house, or if we stay here it will be a good Christmas in a cold house.

“I would love to stay in this house, I really would. I would love everything fixed in this house.

“It’s terrifying because Christmas is coming up and I don’t know if I’m going to be here or where I’m going to be.

“Even if I did get offered temporary accommodation from the Housing Executive it probably wouldn’t be big enough for us.”