A Margate family say they are desperate for a new home due to medical needs but Thanet council simply does not have a big enough property to house them.
Michelle Bailey and Craig Watson currently live in a four-bed house in Dane Valley with their seven children, aged five to 21.
Michelle says the family is classed as Band A housing need -high priority – with Craig, 46, suffering a number of degenerative medical conditions which mean he will soon need a room for medical and dialysis equipment at home.
The couple have converted the dining room into an extra bedroom but several of the children, who also have needs related to ADHD and ODD, are sharing and the smallest two, aged 8 and 5, are in with Michelle and Craig.
The couple need a room for the two youngest children so the medical equipment for Craig can be installed in their bedroom. Currently there is not another room that the two children can be moved to. The maisonette is not suitable for an extension as the footprint is too small and the bathroom cannot be converted to a wetroom.
Craig, who worked full time at Bookers before being hit by illness, was recently been rushed into William Harvey Hospital in Ashford after suffering severe health issues associated with his conditions.
The older children are now helping with the younger ones as Michelle is also now a carer for her partner.
Michelle, 50, says Thanet council could knock two properties into one or build some bigger homes so large families like themselves can be accommodated. She says the need for a separate room for Craig’s medical equipment is now desperate.
She said: “We have been trying to move for three-and-a-half year. My partner is in and out of hospital, he has COPD, kidney disease, he had blood clots on his lungs, heart problems – he is not going to get any better and will soon need his own room for medical equipment.
“The council have said we need a six-bedroom house or bigger but they haven’t got any. We have the youngest two in with me and Craig and so they saw him having a heart attack.
“I feel as though we are living on a time bomb. I know there are other families that need larger homes too. When the final straw does come then there will be a bigger home for them.
“We are not asking for it because we want it, we are asking because we need it.”
Thanet council currently has1713 households waiting on the housing register.
The council has 3,400 local authority properties and sizes range from bedsits to 5 bed houses. The council is building more social housing, with Foy House in Margate, its first in house temporary accommodation, currently under construction,
A council spokesperson said: “We can’t comment on individual cases but, where families require a particularly large property with specific adaptations we are unable to advise how long the wait for a suitable home will be.
“Families in this situation will always be given support, advice and information by our Housing Options team, including registering for a mutual exchange, looking in the private rented sector for a suitable and affordable property and placing bids on appropriate properties through Kenthomechoice.”
Government guidance recommends that councils use an overcrowding measure called the ‘bedroom standard’.
You count as overcrowded under the bedroom standard if you don’t have a bedroom in your home for each:
- single person aged 21 or over
- pair of children under 10 regardless of sex
- pair of adolescents aged 10-20 of the same sex
A report by the National Housing Federation published in November says nearly 8 million people in England are experiencing some of form of housing need and overcrowding affects the most people, with 3.4 million people found to be living this way.
The report says: “A shortage of larger homes can make finding a suitably sized home more difficult for families. This
shortage is largely a result of the sale of council housing and a decrease in government funding for building new social homes since 2010 – larger, family homes being more expensive to build and therefore more difficult to build with less government funding. The ‘spare bedroom subsidy’ has also acted as an incentive for developers to build smaller homes.”