Rachael Sims, 32, husband Tony, 42, and their daughters Hayley, 17, and Chloe, 14, were forced to move out of their privately rented three-bedroom semi-detached home in Seaton Road on March 3 as the landlord wants to sell.As happens to lots of people. Why is it a problem for this family (nicely illustrated with artfully-posed photos shot on the Town Hall steps)?
News Shopper reported in January that on finding out they were to be made homeless, the Sims family were told by Bexley Council that due to a shortage of temporary accommodation in the south east, they had been sending applicants to Manchester - some 230 miles away.
The family descended on Bexley Council offices again last week where they were told they had no choice but to move into two bedrooms in 10-bed shared accommodation in Longfield Street, Dartford, or face homelessness.So, despite them all working full-time or being in full-time education, they cannot afford to rent another house in the area? Or even out of the area (but not as far as Manchester)?
Well, it seems a comment purporting to be from the Council might explain:
London Borough of Bexley says...
We provided the paper with some more information, which they did not include in their final story. This was that, for several weeks prior to their eviction, the Council’s Housing Support Service had been working with the Sims family to find alternative private rented properties. Although a number of properties were identified, the family chose not to pursue this option.Well, well, well…
A council spokesman said: "As we have explained to Mrs Sims, we cannot ‘reserve’ emergency accommodation in advance.
"Unfortunately when the Sims family presented as homeless the only availability was the shared accommodation in Dartford.
"It is not unusual for this property, or similar, to be used in order to meet our duty to homeless households.
"The alternative to using this accommodation would have been to place the family in a hotel, which is more expensive and would not be a good use of council tax payer's money."Indeed it wouldn’t. Don’t like the council’s offer? Find suitable rental accommodation yourself.
And...when did it become the job of the council to assist two able-bodied adults to source accommodation?