Twenty-four-year-old Laura Wade is typical of single parents all over Britain who are blamed for every social problem and are refused help when they need it most.
Single parents are hardest hit by the lack of affordable housing and the punitive benefit reforms introduced by the coalition.
Laura lives in a damp one-bedroom apartment with her 12-month-old daughter in York, where single-parent families account for half of those in urgent housing need and 70 per cent are living in poverty.
Laura's postage-stamp flat is dark, damp and cold, although she's tried to make the best of it.
Her daughter has been admitted to hospital on 11 separate occasions in the past nine months with chest infections.
Her GP and health visitor have written to the landlord and the council supporting her application for a transfer.
The landlord isn't a corporate investor or Dickensian character trying to pick a pocket or two, but a housing association which paid its chief executives an average of £167,500 per year derived from housing benefit, rents and millions of pounds of public subsidy.
Laura moved to her flat after spending months in a hostel fleeing domestic violence.
At first the damp didn't bother her - she was just glad to have a roof over her head.
But when she discovered extensive mould over her baby's cot mattress she began to worry.
"The damp in the bedroom is the problem," Laura says. "It's all over the mattress and even after it's been scrubbed, you just can't remove it."
Laura cleans a lot - it's something to do and the flat is immaculate except for bags and bags of clothes and toys that can't be stored in an enclosed space without succumbing to the damp.
Laura says of her daughter's frequent infections, "It makes me feel really bad. What if they ring social services on me? It's really hard.
"It's cold all the time and the heating takes about an hour to kick in. At 5 o'clock I need to turn on the heating to heat the room up for 7 when my daughter goes to bed."
Outside it's 21?C but in the flat it could be the middle of winter. Laura laughs - even the maintenance manager comments that it's always warmer outside, she says.
I wonder how Laura's kept it together this long.
When I ask her what would be the ideal solution, Laura explains her simple wants - just "a new place with two bedrooms. I'm not that bothered about a garden as long as it was a two-bedroom place that was damp-free. If anyone offered me a lot of money - a couple of grand or something - or a new place, I'd go for a new place."
Laura just wants to get her life on track, retrain and find a job. She feels that she "can't do it with things as they are" and it's easy to see why she feels trapped by her situation.
It's virtually impossible to find a two-bedroom property anywhere near York city centre that is on or below the benefit cap of £524 per calendar month.
The Local Housing Allowance was set to ensure that only three in every 10 properties are affordable to people on housing benefit. In reality, it's probably a lot less.
A few yards away from Laura's flat, about eight estate agents were advertising two-bedroom properties that would be perfect for Laura and her little girl.
Trouble is, none of them fall within the Local Housing Allowance.
I asked in several estate agents whether there were any properties available that did and was told there are - occasionally.
Not one estate agent had a property within the benefit price range and the average for a two-bedroom home is £676 per month.
Most landlords prefer tenants in full-time employment. It's not prejudice, a local estate agents says. Many landlords would consider benefit claimants, but housing benefit is often paid late, in arrears and every four weeks, causing problems for landlords.
At one time people might have been able to subsidise rent out of benefits, but not now.
Laura would have to find a minimum of £123 per month from her benefits to access one of the properties advertised in the estate agents she walks past every day - money she just does not have.
She can't move. Despite being in the highest level of need, it will be years before she'll be offered a suitable property.
Her housing support worker advised her to stick it out in the hope that eventually she will qualify for an affordable tenancy.
Laura hasn't got £1,500 for a deposit and agents' fees to rent privately. In a city where there is insufficient affordable housing and landlords are unwilling to rent out to benefit claimants, where can she go?
Laura wants to work for the ambulance service but can't because her daughter "always has a bad chest because of the damp."
She and her daughter are trapped in the benefits system because childcare facilities will not care for a sick child.
It hardly matters because the cost of childcare in York is now so high that low-paid single mums can't afford it.
It's becoming harder and harder for women like Laura to work their way out of poverty.
Laura says: "It's difficult to live on what I'm on at the moment.
"My nan and granddad help me out a lot - buying nappies or if I need some shopping but I don't like relying on them all the time. That's why I really want to go out and work."
She admits to often feeling depressed and has "gone to the doctor for anti-depressants but not said anything."
There is inordinate pressure on low-income single mothers. Laura says: "During the day I'm kept busy, but when she's in bed and you're sat down thinking: 'I can't work out of it - there's no room for manoeuvre'."
Laura was surprised when she found herself expecting. She was working at the time and had taken every family planning precaution.
She is clearly devoted to her daughter and, with a Level 2 in childcare, is a knowledgeable parent.
Laura doesn't fit the government description on "workshy parents" perpetuating a cycle of deprivation, but then stereotypes are readily exploited.
After her daughter was born, Laura lived at her mum's until her daughter was three months old.
She remembers how her baby became ill after she moved to the flat.
"When she was admitted into hospital at Christmas she was on oxygen for a week, with nebulisers and heart machines and stuff. She was really poorly.
"They said that if she didn't pick up on her feeding [she was being fed through tubes] she wouldn't be home in time for Christmas."
Luckily, her beautiful little girl recovered - but it's hard to celebrate when you're trapped living in a modern slum.