'Cruel': Family of 9 in Gladstone housing commission home

THERE have been plenty of sitcoms based on big families but the Cole family has been to hell and back trying to find a place to live.

After leaving a toxic rental situation three weeks ago, where they say they were sleeping in tents in a Murgon backyard, the nine of them have been on the road, finding refuge where they can.

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Three days ago Kelly Cole's best mate Lou Paulson took the whole family into her three-bedroom Department of Housing home in West Gladstone. That means there are 11 people living side by side under the one housing commission roof.

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CROWDED HOUSE: Pa, Ma, Kelly, Lou, Chris, Lea-Ann, Patty, Nelson, Joey and Brendan squeeze together for a family pick.
CROWDED HOUSE: Pa, Ma, Kelly, Lou, Chris, Lea-Ann, Patty, Nelson, Joey and Brendan squeeze together for a family pick. Declan Cooley

"At the moment Joey sleeps on the single lounge, Nelson sleeps on the long one, Christie sleeps on the single bed, me and Steven sleep on our thin foam, Lea-ann and Patty sleep together and Ma and Pa sleep [in the kitchen on mattresses]," Ms Cole said.

Add to the mix 12 cats, three dogs, one bird, two rats and five fish; things are a little squished.

Things started to fall apart on Tuesday when the Department of Housing caught wind of the temporary arrangement.

Ms Cole and Ms Paulson said a Gladstone Department of Housing case worker had told them Ms Paulson risked losing her home unless the Coles' left. "I've been in my house for 19 years and I know my rights," Ms Paulson said. "I'm allowed to have whoever I want, how many I want and whenever I want as long as I pay my rent and my yards are clean.

"I do see where they are coming from because there are a whole heap of people in one house but [the Department of Housing] can be cruel when they want to be."

Due to privacy reasons the Department of Housing would not comment on Ms Paulson's situation, however a spokesman did say because the house was only a three bedroom house, the number of visitors "must be considered".

"These visitors must be added to the lease if they're to stay longer than four weeks," he said. "If they're added to the lease, they then become tenants and so their income must be taken into account when calculating the rent for that property."

The family has tried to find emergency accommodation, but haven't had any luck.

"We need our own space and Lou needs her home back," Ms Cole said.

Ms Cole said the nine family members received close to $3000 in benefits and just needed a bit more time to secure a private rental. "We just want a house where we can be happy," she said.





Topics:  editors picks gladstone

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