In 2016 Katie Croud and her two sons had to leave their St Peter’s home because the landlord sold up.
Katie and the boys moved into her elderly parents’ home in Margate, sharing one bedroom, while she began bidding for a new property.
More than five years on and Katie and the boys, now aged 15 and 18, are still on the housing waiting list unable to secure a new council home, outpriced from the private lettings market and unable to risk being sent out of area by going into temporary accommodation because of Katie’s youngest lad’s ‘open access’ to the children’s ward at QEQM Hospital in Margate due to renal kidney disease.
The 39-year-old’s oldest son suffers from PTSD following a terrifying armed burglary at his grandparent’s house – the same property they are now living in – when he was just seven. During that incident his nan threw herself over him after a gang burst in and ordered her husband at gunpoint to open a family safe.
Katie, who receives PIP due to poor mental health, says she is bewildered as to why despite the mental and physical health needs in the family she remains graded at band C – listed as ‘reasonable preference’ but not priority bands A or B.
She said: “I have been on council waiting list since 2016, my priority moving date was July 31 2017. In the beginning I was bidding for two-bedroom properties but now my sons have grown so I am having to bid for three-bed homes.
“My parents were trying to downsize to a bungalow because mum is riddled with arthritis and struggles to get up the stairs but they have had to stop because we’ll become homeless.
“I can’t go into temporary accommodation as we’d probably get sent out of area and my youngest son has open access to Rainbow Ward. He has renal kidney disease and has already had one kidney removed, he has had more surgeries than I have in my lifetime and is very poorly. He had been misdiagnosed as having a bladder problem but was then blue-lighted to hospital with toxic shock and sepsis. He had his kidney removed and has a catheter.
“My eldest has PTSD from witnessing the armed burglary and I have bad mental health but Thanet council told me they no longer take this into consideration.
“I can’t afford private rents which are astronomically expensive, the top up is more than I have and I need to make sure I always have a little bit of money in case my son needs to go back to hospital in London.
“I’m not being fussy about what I bid on or where, although I’d prefer to stay as close to the QEQM as possible because I don’t drive, but I’m still only band c even though there are five of us are living in a three-bed house with my parents currently sleeping in separate rooms because of my mum’s disability.
“I’m not here through choice, my ex-landlord sold the last property for development and we have literally had no help.”
Katie says she has contacted North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale but was told he does not deal with housing matters and she now has no idea where to turn next.
She added: “I’m not the only person in this position. There are a lot of families struggling for housing. It is so frustrating.”
A council spokesperson said: “While we cannot comment on individual circumstances, we can confirm that the medical issues of our clients are taken into account regardless of whether they are physical or mental.
“We will always continue to support people who require assistance, and liaise with other services and agencies to ensure anyone who is vulnerable gets the assistance they need.”
Thanet council currently has 1,740 households on the housing register waiting for an affordable rented home. Of these 923 are individuals and 817 are families.
The council is landlord of 3034 properties, 888 of these are three-bed properties.
Those eligible to join the housing list are placed into one of four bands, -A, B, C and D. Applications in band A will be given the highest priority for rehousing, band B the next highest, then C with band D applicants having the lowest priority. Bids are made on properties through Kent Homechoice. Once bids have been made they are sorted in order of priority, and once verified the person with the highest priority will be offered the property.
However, demand is outpacing supply and many isle tenants in the private sector are spending half their income on rent. The National Housing Federation says only 30% of income should be spent on housing costs.
Thanet council housing allocation policy
Band A – Urgent housing needs
Factor 1 Urgent medical or welfare needs.
Factor 2 Management transfer.
Band B – Serious housing needs
Factor 1 People occupying very overcrowded housing or otherwise living in very unsatisfactory housing conditions.
People leaving supported housing.
Factor 2 Social housing tenants in Thanet who are under-occupying by one bedroom or more.
Factor 3 Armed Forces Personnel.
Band C – Reasonable preference
Factor 1 All other homeless households.
Factor 2 People occupying unsanitary or overcrowded housing or otherwise living in unsatisfactory housing conditions.
Factor 3 People who need to move on medical or welfare grounds, including grounds relating to a disability.
Factor 4 Key workers with a housing need
Band D – General housing needs
Factor 1 People who are intentionally homeless, or who have deliberately worsened their housing circumstances.
Factor 2 People who are homeless by another local authority
Factor 3 Households that have a housing need but owe a former tenancy debt or are deemed to have unacceptable behaviour