All Angie Penfold wants is to have a safe space to celebrate Christmas with her children this year.
However, the former Millfield resident is facing an uncertain future as she approaches the Yuletide season without stable accommodation.
Ms Penfold, who had lived with five of her six children in Millfield for the past six years, said that her former landlord had decided to sell the property, leaving her looking for new accommodation.
However, Ms Penfold claims that her name and tenancy were not registered with the Private Rental Tenancies Board (PRTB), leaving her with no rental record for the past six years.
She said that she and her children left the property last week, and had been staying at the Cessnock Vintage Motor Inn on Maitland Road until Friday.
“As of today [Monday] I’m homeless with five kids – my other daughter lives with her father,” Ms Penfold said.
“Every second day I have to go to the Department of Housing so they can re-assess me, and I have been staying at the motel in Cessnock, who have been absolutely wonderful.
“But I had to leave on Friday because they were booked up for the Postie Bike Grand Prix.
“I was just lucky that my girlfriend went away for the weekend so we house-sat for her, but the Department of Housing are still saying that they have nowhere for me to go.”
Ms Penfold added that while she had been given a two month extension to assist with finding new accommodation, her tireless search has so far turned up nothing.
“I left the property last week,” Ms Penfold explained.
“The tribunal did give me a two month extension and since then, I’ve been to nearly every house in town.”
Ms Penfold said that she had applied for more than 30 properties and had only one reference called.
She said she believed the fact that she was a single mother with five children, some of whom have disabilities, had worked against her when applying for new accommodation – in addition to her claim that she has no rental history for the past six years.
“I’ve got five kids with me aged 21, 16, eight, five and three – one has just been tested for Asperger’s because her father has it and I’ve got another that’s on the autism spectrum at level three.,” she said.
“I’m trying to keep his routine of all his appointments and therapies while I’m homeless.
“Then you’ve got all the school stuff – my 16-year-old just started Year 12 today at Cessnock High and my son with autism is out at Millfield with the teachers aide and school is just like family to him, so I don’t want to disrupt his routine.”
She added that trying to keep a routine for her children had proven to be a nigh on impossible task given her current situation.
“The worst thing about living in a motel is that it’s really hard to cook,” she said.
“You have to have stuff for school and [eight-year-old son] Lachlan eats his own food because he is high on the spectrum so you’re basically buying from scratch every day – you can’t eat healthy.
“It’s too expensive, and you just can’t keep eating hot chips with bread every day.”
Ms Penfold said that she has felt frustrated with what she claimed was prejudice when applying for rental properties.
“I think that single mothers should get a chance – it’s so frustrating.
“I don’t want someone else in the same situation as me, it’s horrible. My three year old is constantly asking me when we are going home.
“It just keeps going on and on and on and I don’t know where it’s going to end.”