A single mum of baby triplets has been left homeless for over a year because she claims the local authority has ignored her need for housing.
Latifah Campbell has been sleeping in her friend’s living room while looking after her one-year-old daughters because she says she has nowhere else to go.
The 23-year-old is desperate for a home of her own and has applied to Birmingham City Council for two and three-bed council homes but has been told to keep waiting.
One of her daughters has epilepsy and Latifah is worried about what the future will hold for her and her triplets.
She told BirminghamLive : “Emotionally and mentally it’s hard. I’m trying to deal with it. It’s 24/7.
“We’ve been staying in my friend’s living room and using it as a bedroom. It was always meant to be temporary as we are crammed into one room together.
“I’m still here now and haven’t been able to find anywhere else.
“The council has told me I have to wait. I’m stressed, the girls are stressed. It’s not a good environment as they are growing up and it’s a small space.”
Latifah, who grew up in Birmingham, initially tried to get council housing last May – but her application was rejected because she was in hospital in London at the time.
She said she applied again to the council in February, along with her homeless assessment, but was only offered temporary accommodation, which wouldn’t be suitable for three babies, especially her epileptic daughter.
“I have done a homeless application as technically I am homeless,” she explained. “The council said there was nothing it could do unless I went into temporary accommodation – but that is not suitable for babies.
“It said that might not even be in Birmingham. So, I’m in limbo. I’m told I have to wait, but I feel nothing has been done. I have no idea how far down the queue I am.
“The council said I would be entitled to a three-bedroom home as there’s four of us, but a two-bedroom would be great.”
Around 17,000 people in Birmingham currently remain on the housing list as enforcement officers battle to reclaim private homes abandoned in the city.
More than 4,000 council tenants require rehousing, and 3,500 homeless households are in temporary accommodation.
Aspiring midwife Latifah has a single bed, three cots, a chest of draws and a fridge in her friend’s living room.
She said she was incredibly grateful to her friend and her mum, who “have been so kind to me.”
“Without them I don’t know what I’d do or where I’d be,” she added.
“I’d like the council to understand the situation I’m in. It’s hard enough raising three kids, but it’s hard raising three kids when you’re alone and in an environment where you’re stuck.
“I do have some support around me. But at the same time, I can’t really do what I’d like to do or what I’d want to do as I haven’t got my own space.”
Jamaican-born Latifah, who now receives Universal Credit, had been working and studying in London when she fell pregnant. She appeared in a Channel 4 documentary called Baby Surgeons: Miracle Babies.
“I found out at nine weeks I was having triplets. I had to have an emergency scan as I was having lots of pain.
“In December 2019, one of the babies had a very fast heartbeat.”
It emerged that her cervix had started to open at 22 weeks and documentary cameras filmed doctors telling her of her options.
“They said I could leave it as it was or I could go into early labour and the babies might not survive or I could have surgical stitch around the cervix to keep them in as long as possible,” she said.
“That worked and I had them at 29 weeks. It was a pretty difficult thing.”
The girls were born through c-section at St Thomas Hospital, in central London, on April 19, 2020. Za’lahni was born first, weighing 3lbs 4oz, followed by Ah’zari who weighed 2lbs 9oz, and Zeh’rai, who was just 1lbs 15oz.
Latifah stayed in accommodation next to the hospital for about two months while her babies were incubated. She moved to Great Barr, Birmingham, in June and has since been living with her friend and her friend’s mum.
Za’lahni has a heart condition and last December was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy. She needs to be on medication for her heart and spasms.
But Latifah said her children were doing well and were all “mischievous” after their first birthday last month.
The council said staff worked tirelessly to support people who were homeless or at risk and there was a long waiting list for social housing.
“Whenever anyone approaches us as homeless, Birmingham City Council will always do its level best to support them and provide them with the best possible advice,” a spokesperson said.
“However, like any large local authority, we are experiencing significantly high numbers of people who are threatened with homeless, homeless or in need of emergency accommodation.
“We will do everything possible to prevent our citizens from becoming homeless in the first place.
“And where this is not possible, we are working collaboratively with partners across the city to ensure suitable accommodation is found including helping families to find accommodation in the private rented sector, with the help of a rent deposit scheme.
“As has been widely reported, we have a long waiting list for social housing which means placing families is very challenging owing to a shortage of accommodation.
“Anyone who finds themselves in need of accommodation should, as a matter of urgency approach the Housing Options Centre – who will then review their case and work though all potential options with them.”