A Cregagh mum says she is still waiting to get into her house — five months after being forced out by flooding.
Christine Vogan’s home at The Straight in the Cregagh estate was flooded after the January snow built up on its flat roof then thawed, causing water to pour through the ceiling for three days solid.
Her neighbour is similarly affected as well as a few other houses on the estate. “It’s beyond a joke,” said Christine. “I have phoned and written letters of complaint. We’re relying on family but I’m paying rent for a place that I can’t physically live in.”
After Christine and her nine year old son Morgan left the house on January 10, the Housing Executive froze the rent and carried out repairs but when they had finished, on February 28, it appeared to Christine that the house was still not habitable even though she was required to pay rent again.
Even last week, the kitchen walls still appeared damp, particularly around the socket for the fridge. She says electrician friends have told her not to plug anything in.
On March 30, after an intervention by MLA Robin Newton, she met a housing manager who examined the house and compiled a list of work that needed to be done and that is the last direct contact she has been able to have with the Executive.
“When I phone to ask where we are on the list of people waiting for repairs they say we’re not even on the list, yet the housing manager himself drew up a list.”
Others have told her that they couldn’t gain access to the house but she says she has left messages with them and notes on the door with contact details for when she’s at work.
Christine has bought paint and wallpaper and has already redecorated some rooms but can’t start on the kitchen or bathroom until the Executive has completed its work.
In the meantime, all her kitchen appliances and furniture are in the bedrooms so they can’t be used.
“I’ve done as much as I can do but I’m actually worn down and wore out with phone calls and letters and advice centres and having called this housing officer so many times and no response back.”
She added: “I’m working to pay for somewhere that isn’t habitable after five months. I’m wanting to move on but this is breaking the heart off me and breaking my spirit and it isn’t fair on Morgan either.”
A Housing Executive spokesman confirmed that they had carried out remedial work to repair the water damage.
“Whilst our contractor initially encountered some difficulties in gaining access to carry out the work, major repairs have been completed and the property is now available for the tenant to return.
“We understand, however, that there are a number of minor repairs still outstanding. Our local District Maintenance Manager has discussed these issues with the tenant. We will arrange to identify the extent of the outstanding repairs so that the appropriate remedial work can be carried out without further delay,” he added.