A Margate dad says he is worried he cannot care for his children properly because he and his two young daughters have been sofa surfing for a month.
Billy Jordan says he and his girls, aged 5 and 6, are sleeping on sofas and floors at friends’ houses with their belongings packed into another pal’s shed.
Billy, 30, says he became homeless after a relationship split with a partner (not birth mother of the girls) and the uncertainty of where they will live is causing his girls to become increasingly distressed.
Billy’s youngest daughter is living with conditions including Pica, which is where a person will compulsively eat non-food items which can be harmful. He says she is also prone to meltdowns.
The dad says he had accepted temporary accommodation in Chatham but a doctor’s letter was also sent to Thanet council to say it was unsuitable for his youngest daughter, leading officers to understand he had rejected the offer.
He said: “We have stayed with several people around Millmead who have let me and the girls crash with them.
“I’ve not been sleeping because of the stress. I’m getting headaches and my back hurts. We are sleeping on sofas or floors. I put a blanket on the ground for the girls because they refuse to leave my side. They are terrified. They know the people we stay with but are worried that they will lose me.
“I accepted temporary accommodation in Chatham even though it would mean travelling back to Thanet every day for the girls to go to school and my youngest to go to play therapy but the email I got didn’t have an address or how to pick up keys. And then the council said I had refused it so they didn’t have an obligation to help me.
“I’m worried about my girls, they are becoming very distressed.”
Billy says the girls stay with their mum on a weekly basis but cannot stay longer than that due to circumstances beyond both their control, He is their main carer and currently a full-time dad. He has signed up with Kent Homechoice, where people can ‘bid’ on social and affordable housing, but is unable to bid on properties because his registration still needs to be validated.
He added: “It’s a horrible situation. I don’t know what to do next. It worries me that I might not be able to care for the girls like I should.”
(Update) The girls’ mum says she has requested they stay with her and says she is in the process of contacting the relevant authorities to see what can be done in regards to court ordered arrangements. .
Thanet council’s housing team say that as long as proof of eligibility is provided, they can look at continuing to work with the family under the Relief Duty for those in need of emergency accommodation.
Housing advice charity Shelter advises people not to refuse emergency accommodation. The charity says an option could be to stay with family as the council must still:
look into your situation
help under your personal housing plan
decide if they must help with longer term housing
However, Shelter adds that the council might decide you’re not homeless if it’s reasonable for you to stay with family or friends in the longer term.
Demands on emergency accommodation
The number of households in emergency accommodation in Thanet has almost doubled in the past year.
Some 542 individuals or families were placed in emergency accommodation in 2021/22, up from 273 the previous financial year.
Figures also show that currently more than 200 households in the district are in temporary accommodation – meaning they would likely be homeless otherwise.
Thanet District Council has more than 600 active ‘homelessness cases’, which includes those who are currently homeless, at risk of homelessness and being supported by rough sleeping services, or awaiting a council decision on whether to house them.
Kent County Council has also announced plans to axe its £5 million Homelessness Connect service in 2024.
The decision was branded “devastating” by local homelessness charity Porchlight, which is part of the Kent Homelessness Connect scheme.
TDC recently projected an overspend of £880,000 just on temporary accommodation needs, on top of an additional £400,000 this financial year allocated to deal with homelessness and fund related services.
In early October the local authority was awarded £3.8 million from the government to help rough sleepers over the next three years.
Currently 51 units of accommodation are provided by Kent Homelessness Connect in Thanet, but could be lost as the scheme ends.
Thanet council Housing Team 01843 577277
This article is not comment on the relationship status or parenting abilities of the adults involved, it is about accommodation needs for the children and how that needs to be resolved.