A DISABLED 61-year-old woman says she has been forced to sleep in her car because Newport City Homes haven’t been able to offer her anywhere suitable to live.

Maria Jones – who is agoraphobic, has arthritis in both hips and whose lower back discs are worn away – says she had to hand in the keys of her temporary accommodation after refusing on medical grounds a property she could not live in as it was a 10th-floor apartment.

Newport City Homes said it offered Maria Jones two properties which she refused and that it is working in partnership with Newport City Council.

Ms Jones, who is originally from Risca, said she had to move out of her flat in May 2016 following a dispute with her landlord over mould in the flat.

Her daughter tried to re-home her while she found somewhere else to live.

However, Ms Jones said she had to move out after her daughter’s landlord refused to add her to the contract.

If she had stayed, she would have put her daughter at risk of homelessness too.

She said: “I moved out on December 5 and the council found me a temporary place in Newport.

“In January, they offered me a 10th-floor flat, but I had only been bidding for ground-floor properties so I went to see Newport City Homes.

“I said to them I can’t go in a lift because I am agoraphobic and showed them a letter from my doctor.”

Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult, according to the NHS website.

Ms Jones said she was forced to refuse a second property they offered her – a fourth-floor flat in Ringland -– for the same reasons.

“On February 9, I got a letter from Newport council saying I had a week to leave the property because I had refused the other property,” she said. “I have not had a place to live in or been offered any support since I handed in the keys on Friday, February 10.

“I feel like crying all the time, I am depressed and in pain. All I have ever asked for is a ground floor flat.

“I have been sleeping on my mum’s sofa and my friends’ sofas. I have also slept in the car.”

A spokeswoman for Newport City Council said the council had given Maria Jones support and advice since she first asked for assistance in November but that she has ceased to engage with officers.

She said: “As well as negotiating an extension to the notice to leave her daughter’s address, the council were involved in finding her temporary accommodation and advising her on the options available for securing a more permanent home.

“Earlier this month, Ms Jones refused the offer of a housing association flat and postponed a council support appointment.

“After she was issued with notice to vacate the temporary accommodation, the keys were handed in to the Information Station with no forwarding address.”

She said that several attempts had since been made by support staff to contact her but without success.