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A man claims he and his family of nine have been forced to live in a five-man tent in someone’s back garden after they were evicted.
Gareth Agius, 26, says he is at the end of his tether after he and his family were evicted from their home in Bilton Grange, Hull, and made homeless five weeks ago.
Mr Agius, who is employed, says he never thought he and his family would end up in such a desperate situation.
Gareth Agius, 26, admits he is at the end of his tether after he and his family (pictured) were evicted from their home in Bilton Grange, Hull, and made homeless five weeks ago
‘We are now living in a five-man tent in the back garden of my partner’s mum’s home,’ he said.
‘I admit we have made mistakes and the system is very confusing but it doesn’t mean we should be living like this.
‘I feel nervous and desperate. I am close to losing my job and have even thought about turning to drink which I have never done before.
‘The children are really strong, stronger than I am. I feel like I have failed them and I have reached rock bottom.
‘I want us to be a model family and I want them to be proud of me. I don’t want to be on benefits, I want to do things properly.
‘I have seen all this affect the children and I see no way to progress. I don’t know what to do.’
Mr Agius, who works for his uncle in soft drinks distribution, is not the biological father of the children but says he has been like a dad to them since he met Ms Hooper.
The children range from nine years old to 18 years old. The oldest is living in the house with her grandmother – but everyone else has to squeeze into the five-man tent.
Like many other homeless people, Gareth feels he and his family have been abandoned.
‘Social services are not engaging with us and we feel forgotten about,’ he said. ‘I feel at breaking point now and I have been very depressed.’
He and partner Kay Hooper accumulated debt arrears of £6,000 after a mix-up over their supported housing.
‘I was on a bad path when I met Kay and I was smoking weed but she helped me and I was determined to be a good dad to her children,’ he said.
Mr Agius, who is employed, says he never thought he and his family would end up in such a desperate situation
‘She had the support of social services when I met her seven years ago but I was determined we would get to a point where they weren’t needed and we achieved this.
‘We were in Bransholme on normal housing benefits which cost £80 a week but then we were given supported housing in Gipsyville in west Hull, which I didn’t feel we needed, which was costing £180.
‘When our rent was £80 a week that was covered by housing benefits but in supported housing we found ourselves in debt.’
The couple had to move out of their Gipsyville home and were given accommodation at a halfway house in Princes Avenue.
The children range from nine years old to 18 years old. The oldest is living in the house with her gran – but everyone else has to squeeze into the five-man tent
‘It was a horrible and infested with mice,’ Mr Agius said. ‘We ended up in North Bransholme and we were there for nearly five years.
‘We got to the point where the kids were really well-behaved and I had a job.
‘I felt I was achieving the goals I had set myself and we were very happy.
‘But we didn’t realise the housing association had failed to apply for an exemption for a housing benefit cap and our rent arrears mounted up.
‘One day I was told our arrears were £6,000 and we were threatened with eviction.
‘I began working for my uncle and we managed to reduce the arrears to £2,000 but they wanted the money more quickly.
‘I was being told to pay £400 a week but I was only earning £270. We rang and begged for support.
‘But an investigation was carried out and we were told we being made homeless which was classed as voluntary because we hadn’t paid the arrears. I was gob-smacked.
‘We were put in a flat in Greenwich Avenue but suddenly given a week’s notice to move out.’
But Hull City Council has urged Mr Agius to get in touch and insists there are options available.
A spokesman said: ‘We have received a housing application from Mr Aigus, however it was submitted without requested supporting documents.
‘We previously contacted Mr Aigus to make him aware of this and explain that the application could not be progressed without these.
‘We urge him to contact the Homesearch team at the earliest opportunity so that we can support him to complete and submit the form so that we can process it and advise him of the available options.’