Bringing home Thanet families in temporary accommodation outside of the district is being made a priority, according to council housing boss Bob Porter.
As of November 19 there were 64 isle households placed in temporary accommodation in other areas of Kent and Medway. Of those 24 were families with under-16s. This is a slight reduction on the figure for June which stood at 71 households placed outside of Thanet.
Mr Porter said: “This year our first priority was to reduce the use of hotel accommodation. Families in hotel rooms without facilities are in a difficult situation.”
The number of families in hotel accommodation had been halved from 51 on April 1 to 26 on June 30 to just 2 by August 23. There are currently no Thanet families housed in hotel accommodation.
Mr Porter said: “Our next priority is people in temporary accommodation placed outside of the area. They won’t necessarily be first on the list for social, rented homes but when we move someone from temporary accommodation to a home in Thanet then we have a place to move someone back from out of area.”
Housing Options manager Victoria May says the need to put some families in accommodation in Dover, Maidstone or other Kent and Medway areas can be ‘soul-destroying.’
She said: “We do everything we can to ensure there is somewhere temporary to stay but some people coming to us are at a point of crisis and we have to phone around that day to see what is available.
“It can be soul destroying for an officer when they make the call and find self-contained accommodation, but it is in Dover or further afield and we just have nothing in Thanet.
“A lot of the time the officers are mums with children so it is not a decision made lightly. We struggle with it at times and understand how difficult it is.”
Birchington ward councillor Suzanne Brimm has worked with families from the village who became homeless, with some being moved out of area.
She said: “The families that I am representing have been bringing their children up in a lovely idyllic village with their children in good schools. They have been contributing to society by holding down jobs and providing for their families and do not deserve to be so badly let down by the system.
“It’s appalling how the system is fracturing them from their support network, adding further pressure to mental health issues, splitting up marriages and putting pressure on the children’s education. The council should be paying for the cost of exorbitant travel fees to get these children to school.”
One mum who was moved to Dover said getting to her new job in Margate and getting her children up extra early so they could go to breakfast clubs at their isle schools was difficult.
Luckily the family found private accommodation, but the cost is more than £1,000 per month.
She said: “We are lucky to have found a private let but it’s been horrible feeling isolated and not being allowed our family dog. No-one asks to be like this.”
Another mum-of-three had to separate her three children and send them to stay with their dads while she sofa-surfed.
Thanet council worked with Miles & Barr and the mum has now secured a four-bedroom home on the isle.
Councillor Lesley Game, Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods, said prevention is key.
She said: “The earlier people come to see us the more we can do to try and help.”