Plea for help from Colchester woman facing homelessness

A DOMESTIC abuse survivor with health conditions faces spending Christmas on the streets of Colchester as she is set to be evicted from her home in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nyali Muir, 53, was served eviction papers in August, just hours before a deadline which would have forced her landlady to give six months’ notice instead of three.

The decision, taken so the flat could be sold privately, has left Nyali frantically looking for a new place to live.

But she says a combination of lockdown, a loss of income due to Covid and the stigma of renting alone as a single woman in her 50s, has left her facing Christmas on the streets.

Nyali said she had lost out on properties to “lower risk” couples and young professionals.

She said: “Time and time again, I’ve viewed properties and been given first refusal, only for the landlords to decide I’m a high risk.

“I’m not and I’ve got the credit score to prove it. I’ve been renting for 34 years, never missed a payment and always paid on time.”

“I suffer from several debilitating health conditions, so every time I view somewhere I take a risk – but I have no choice.”

Nyali, who ran Wow Woman courses in Colchester to help others after suffering domestic abuse herself, says her situation reflects a major national housing crisis which, she says, is worse for women.

She said: “Statistics show how women my age get trapped in poverty by housing discrimination but nothing seems to change.

“I’ve devoted much of my life to helping others, because as challenging as things have been, I’m committed to good coming out of it.

“I refuse to see myself as a victim. That’s a big reason why I’ve refused benefits.”

Friend Joyce Cavaye has sent up a fundraising page to help her with £2,600 being donated in less than a month.

Nyali added: “I’m so thankful to all the people who donated, if it wasn’t for them I really wouldn’t know what to do.”

A spokesperson for Colchester Borough Homes advised Nyali to contact the housing solutions team.

He added: “We may be able to assist her to secure alternative private sector accommodation through our Homestep scheme.

“Whilst we sympathise with Ms Muir’s plight, it would appear the landlord acted within the law as it stood at that date. However, at the end of the notice period, the landlord is legally required to go back to court to obtain a possession order if Ms Muir is unable to leave.

“The council can only get involved in eviction cases from an enforcement perspective if, for instance, a landlord has not followed the correct legal eviction process and attempted an illegal eviction or threatened or harassed a tenant which is not alleged in this instance.”

“Further advice on keeping your tenancy is available on CBH’s Keeping Your Tenancy webpage and on the Shelter website.”

Nyali is looking for a two-bed unfurnished property, if you can help with a property or other support, such as moving, email the gazette at gazette.newsdesk@newsquest.co.uk.

To donate go to uk.gf.me/v/c/gfm/nyali-needs-a-home.

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