Sunday, 12 May 2013

Urgent need to tackle homelessness

13th May 2013
Local Greens have written to the leader of Maidstone Borough Council, Chris Garland, as the problem of homelessness in the continues to grow in the Borough. Maidstone had the second highest level of homelessness in Kent [1] at the end of 2012 and the problem has spiraled out of control in recent months.

The Greens are calling for real help for the people who find themselves without a home rather than the 'advice' that the Council are currently claim they are providing[2]. The real help includes finding places of safety, ensuring that the majority of new build homes are affordable, refusing to evict people in hardship caused by the bedroom tax - just as Green run Brighton Council have done, and promoting real jobs in the town.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "Maidstone has the second highest level of homelessness in Kent and the problem is growing rapidly, yet the council seem to be taking little action. I have therefore written to Cllr Garland expressing my concerns and asking what real steps he will be taking.

"The Council seem to have their heads in the sand as they discuss reducing the requirement for affordable homes in the future while simply offering 'advice and guidance' to people who find themselves without a home.

"The Council needs to take positive measures to help people. They need to identify places of safety for people to stay in the short term, they need to ban evictions due to the bedroom tax, just as Green run Brighton has done, and they need to focus house building on affordable homes."

Notes:

1. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/160705/Table_784a.xls
2. http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent_messenger/news/Home-among-the-headstones-601/
3. Text of letter to Cllr Garland below:

I am worried that the council is failing some very vulnerable people. For many weeks the Kent Messenger has been following the stories of the increasing number of homeless people in the Borough and I have met with a number of them myself to understand their needs.  

It is clear that Maidstone has a growing problem. Statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government show that Maidstone already has the second highest level of homelessness in Kent and a cursory glance at the town shows that the figures from the DCLG are woefully understated.  

I am particularly concerned that you are considering reducing the future requirements for affordable homes and that according to the press, the council sees its role as providing ‘advice and guidance’ to people.  

The primary responsibility for reducing homelessness sits with the Borough Council so please can you let me know what additional actions you are taking to meet this growing challenge.

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