Com­plex de­mands and scarce sup­ply

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Spotlight On Housing -

The council has to pri­ori­tise be­tween those on its reg­is­ter, plac­ing peo­ple with the most crit­i­cal med­i­cal needs at the top and in­di­vid­u­als who are nei­ther on ben­e­fits or ill at the bot­tom.

Other fac­tors play a part, in­clud­ing geog­ra­phy, with peo­ple ex­press­ing pref­er­ences about liv­ing in par­tic­u­lar parts of the district. Some peo­ple ask for prop­er­ties in vil­lages, while one per­son was con­tent to spend 11 years on the wait­ing reg­is­ter for the sake of liv­ing in a cer­tain road.

Lesleigh Gre­gory is not on the hous­ing reg­is­ter, but is con­sid­ered legally home­less – one of 75 names on the council’s home­less­ness list.

Such sit­u­a­tions are not al­ways in­stantly solve­able, says Lora Mccourt, Can­ter­bury City Council com­mu­nity ser­vices manager for hous­ing so­lu­tions.

“We might find that sud­denly lots of three-bed­room ac­com­mo­da­tion be­comes avail­able or we might find our­selves wait­ing a long time for it,” she said.

“It might sound like a cliche, but it’s re­ally a case of how long is a piece of string.

“Lesleigh is now sec­ond in line for a three-bed­room house. The whole thing is not made easy by the fact that de­mand is big­ger than sup­ply.

“Our cur­rent hous­ing stock is 5,000 – we could fill that twice eas­ily.

“We try to be in­no­va­tive in our ap­proach, and we are con­stantly ask­ing our­selves what we can do about the sit­u­a­tion.”

The council, for ex­am­ple, is next month launch­ing a so­cial let­tings agency to pair land­lords with ten­ants.

It also tries to en­cour­age peo­ple to ac­quire life skills even ba­sic things such as cook­ery skills so peo­ple can re­main in and make the best of the ac­com­mo­da­tion they are found.

With some young peo­ple find­ing them­selves in need, the council even me­di­ates be­tween them and their par­ents in or­der to try to keep them at home for longer.

Council staff also at­tempt to re­as­sure pri­vate land­lords that just be­cause a per­son may be on ben­e­fits, they would not make a poor ten­ant.

Ms Mccourt said: “It is a jug­gling act and we have to be as trans­par­ent as pos­si­ble in our work.

“We work with fam­i­lies as best we can. We have got to be there for ev­ery­one.”

Council hous­ing of­fi­cer Lora Mccourt

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