A FAMILY of ten say their home is so cramped the children are forced to eat their meals sitting on the floor.
The Dowlings live in a three-bedroom council property in Nanstallon near Bodmin and have had no option but to convert the dining room into a bedroom for some of their children.
Andrew and Susan Dowling have eight children aged between seven months and 17 years, and have been trying to secure a larger property through Cornwall Council's Homechoice register, but have got nowhere.
Mrs Dowling said: "We're all living in quite a small property and even a four bedroom house would help, but we've been told by Homechoice that four bedroom properties are only available to a family with a maximum of seven people, and we're ten.
"A six-bedroom house was available which would have been ideal, but they wouldn't let us bid for it."
She said their present council house was far too small for the family's needs, particularly for one of her children who has autism.
"Our dining room is now a bedroom," she said.
"There just isn't the space to put a table in there, or anywhere else, so we can't sit together and have our meals like a normal family.
"Some of the kids have to eat sitting on the floor, which isn't good. Our five-year-old has autism and it's impossible to teach him table manners, and because we're all living on top of each other it's not easy for him, and he takes it out on the other children.
"It's become very hard for us all to live here."
Cornwall Housing told the Cornish Guardian it was unable to discuss individual cases, but there was a shortage of housing suitable for large families.
A spokeswoman said: "Homechoice works by assessing the housing need of the applicant and then gives opportunities to 'bid' on suitable social housing throughout Cornwall.
"Generally, Homechoice applicants in the most urgent need have the best chance of bidding successfully for social housing to rent.
"Unfortunately the demand for social housing is far greater than the supply in Cornwall and any vacancy will be allocated to the bidder in the most housing need. Added to this is a particular lack of accommodation for larger families; there's a shortage of properties even for cases assessed as Band A or B on the Homechoice register."