14/08/2014 16:52 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Homeless Family Of Four Sleep In A Car

Homeless family of four sleep in a car

A family of four have been sleeping in a car because they say they cannot afford to rent and their local council claim they do not qualify for a council house.

Norman Karawaiez, 61, and his wife Carole, 56, sleep in a silver Toyota Avensis every night with their grown-up children Lewis, 21, and Lamase, 20.

The family applied to Bexley Council's housing register last September, but they have been told they do not meet the criteria because they do not have a proof of address for the past two years, and because their children are in work.

Carole and Norman say while Lewis does work as a trainee hairdresser, Lamase is not employed.

The couple and their children have been homeless for 10 years, since their home in Sidcup was repossessed and they split up. Carole and her children went to live with family members, and Norman started sleeping in the car, which he also uses as a minicab.

Carole and Norman got back together last year, and have been sleeping in the car – along with Lewis and Lamase - ever since.

"It's a nightmare. Me and my daughter lie at the back and my husband and son sleep in the front of the car," said Carole.

"I can't remember the last time I had a good night's sleep. We're constantly bickering at each other. My husband's quite used to it as he's done it for the past 10 years or so but my son and daughter are getting really stressed.

"They're 21 and 20 but they act quite young for their age. My youngest took an overdose of prescription pills about three months ago and she's now waiting to go to counselling."

Carole doesn't work as she suffers from depression, and the family get by on about £300 a week from Norman's minicab driving.

Commenting on the story, a spokesperson from Bexley Council said: "The family is comprised of a husband, wife and two children aged 20 and 21, both of whom are working.

"The family approached the service in April this year and were advised that they should look to find private rented accommodation as they are unlikely to be classed as in priority need in light of the children being adults and both working.

"The council has made a commitment to prioritise established Bexley families in their allocations policy, which means having lived continuously in the borough for two years at the point of application.

"As this is not the case with this family it is not possible to accept a housing application from them at this stage. Social housing is in short supply and the council must look at the evidence of each case very closely as things are not always as they seem. It is the council's duty to ensure that it gets value for money for its taxpayers and that those with the most need are prioritised."