A 23-year-old community carer from Margate says she is trapped at home sharing a bedroom with her teenage brother because finding an affordable property is impossible.
Kathleen Leach says her minimum wage job would not cover rent in the private sector and she is unable to get council accommodation despite being on the waiting list for three years.
The former St George’s student said: “I am sharing a room with my younger brother, who is nearly 16. The main issue is trying to fit all our stuff in the room and sometimes when you come home from work you just want a bit of your own space but it isn’t possible.”
Because Kathleen is assessed as Band C her housing need is rated ‘reasonable preference.’ Those in Bands A and B are assessed as having a higher need.
Kathleen said: “I just want a little, one bedroom place of my own but my banding means I can’t get anywhere even though we are overcrowded.
“We did look at all moving but my dad is 84-years-old which is too old to just pick up and move and we have lived here 19 years.
“My mum and dad have tried everything to help and support me, they tried splitting up the bedroom but it just didn’t work.
“I asked the council what would happen if mum and dad kicked me out but I would just end up homeless.. Our home is managed by Riverside but they couldn’t help either and just said to go on the housing list.
“I have seen housing advice officers but they just say go private and I am not in the financial situation to go private.”
Kathleen says a ward councillor is helping her and trying to get her banding changed due to overcrowding but at the moment staying in the bedroom with her brother seems to be the only option open to her.
Young people trapped in the family home
Thanet council currently has 2,358 households on the social housing waiting list. Of these 434 are people aged between 18-24.
Government statistics released this Summer show nationally that in 2018, one in four young adults (3.4 million) aged 20 to 34 years were living with their parents.
That figure is an increase of 24% over the 10-year period 2008 to 2018.
The government says larger numbers of young adults stay at home for longer due to staying in education and training for longer, formalising relationships and having children at older ages and increased costs in renting or buying a home.
Analysis by the BBC shows young people in Thanet would have to spend 32% of their income to cover rent costs with an average one bedroom flat being around £600pm. Housing organisations suggest the threshold should be 30%.
If a person is aged under 35 and rents from a private landlord, the maximum housing benefit they can receive is the same as the rate they would get for renting a single room in a shared house. This rule is known as the shared accommodation rate. In 2015, the Shared Accommodation Rate was extended from under 25s to under 35s
The shared accommodation rate in Thanet is £65.17 per week. The Local Housing Allowance rate for a one bed flat is £85.64 per week.
According to data from charity Crisis Thanet has zero properties available that would be covered by the shared accommodation allowance.
A Thanet council spokesperson said: “Thanet District Council’s Housing Allocation Policy prioritises the accommodation needs of residents on a range of different factors. Individuals and families whose needs are lower than others will find that it takes longer to be offered social housing. We would advise those in this situation to continue bidding for homes advertised on the Kent Home Choice website. They should also explore other alternative housing options such as private renting.
“Where an individual or family finds themselves having outgrown their current accommodation, or feels that their needs have changed, they should contact the council to discuss options.”
Housing charity Shelter says the country is at crisis point with the cost of private renting sky-rocketing but not providing the homes people need.
The charity is urging people to sign its petition in the run up to the December 12 election demanding government invests in more social housing.
Shelter says: “Investing in social housebuilding is the only way to tackle the root cause of the housing emergency.
“With the number of social houses being built at its lowest for 70 years, homelessness spiralling, and 1.1 million households currently stuck in limbo on the waiting list, it’s clear that our political parties must commit to building a new generation of social homes now.”