A mum-of-five says a frustrating 11-month wait for housing has "crippled" her physically and emotionally, leaving her unable to leave her sister's Swanley house.

Romany gypsy Michelle Heffernan, 44, has rare skin disorder Pompholyx - a type of eczema which flares up when she is stressed.

Since November, Miss Heffernan has been sharing her pregnant sister's two-bedroom West Kent Housing association property on Hart Dyke Road.

She claims eight people, including five children, are living under one roof - and her sister is now considering moving to a privately rented house.

Miss Heffernan told News Shopper: "My sister is prepared to give her house up, because of my health deteriorating so bad.

News Shopper:

"She's overcrowded here. She has got three children herself, another one on the way."

Miss Heffernan wants to be made a tenant on her sister's home, but that is against Sevenoaks District Council's (SDC) policy.

She said: "They are telling me I can't be put down on the tenancy.

"I am not moving out, I am not having it.

"This ain't a very good road.

"It's not the sort of road I want to be around, but I have a lot of good people around me.

"Yet I am having to fight like this.

"I need to be where I am. It's a joke."

News Shopper:

After staying in Swanley for almost a year, Miss Heffernan is reluctant to move because her doctor and her son's school are nearby.

The rashes and blisters on her feet mean she is currently unable to walk - and she blames her poor health on housing problems.

Miss Heffernan added: "I think people should hear about what they have done to my health, because it's not fair to my kids.

"I have got a phobia about going out.

"It's destroyed my whole f**king life really.

"I am now a cripple, because of it.

"I have got all drugged up just because they can't put a two-bedroomed roof over my head."

Miss Heffernan currently splits her time between her sister's home and a friend's property on the same street.


A spokesman for Sevenoaks District Council said: "Due to the low availability of affordable homes in this district, there may be a fair wait before applicants can bid successfully for a home.

"If Ms Heffernan needs any further support or information, we would be happy to assist her."

A West Kent Housing spokesman added: "We have advised Ms Heffernan to contact Sevenoaks District Council to make a homeless application.

"The housing register allocates properties to people according to their housing need.

"Once Ms Heffernan’s housing application is complete, we will do all we can to support her to bid for appropriate homes."

Sevenoaks District Council do not own any council houses in Swanley - residents rent through West Kent Housing.