Thousands stuck in homes list limbo
Last week, we reported on the plight of mother of three Lesleigh Gregory, who is forced to live in a single room. But as Alex Claridge finds out, meeting the housing needs of the district is not an easy task
There are not enough properties available for people who come to Canterbury City Council for help finding accommodation.
The authority admits that supply cannot keep up with demand, and that people finding themselves on the housing waiting register are coming to the council with increasingly complex needs.
These are the claims from the council offices in Military Road after this newspaper reported the case of a mother-of-three living with her children in a cramped single room in Herne Bay, after a fire at her destroyed her rented Sturry home in December.
Since then, Lesleigh Gregory and her children have been forced to live in damp temporary accommodation, sleeping on two beds and with a kitchen area consisting of little more than a microwave and a fridge.
The problem the council faces is what it describes as a “chronically short supply” of three-bedroom properties for the family.
The council points out that all of the people on its waiting list have their own individual needs.
And Lora Mccourt, the council’s community services manager for housing solutions, says it always strives to find them somewhere to live.
“Our ethos is that when someone comes to us, they don’t leave our offices without at least an option for the future,” Ms Mccourt said.
“When they come to us, it’s their opportunity to tell us their story.
“We appreciate that a lot of people are in hardship, and people are increasingly coming to us with complex needs – be they mental issues or medical issues.”
This was highlighted on Friday when a man who had gone to the council to discuss his housing issues tried to take an overdose of pills.
Such incidents demonstrate that housing needs are inextricably linked to other aspects of people’s lives.
Thus the authority values its partnership work with bodies such as the NHS, social services and the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Judging by the scale of the task facing the authority, it is help they could well use.
“There are 2,500 people on the housing register looking for anything from one-bedroom flats to five-bedroom houses.
Lesleigh Gregory in the bedroom she shares with her children, Laiella, Evie and Albert