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Chichester resident’s ‘nightmare’ as housing criteria changes

Valerie Brind with dogs Poppy and Milly and letters from the council informing her that she has been taken off the council housing waiting list. Picture by Kate Shemilt.

Valerie Brind with dogs Poppy and Milly and letters from the council informing her that she has been taken off the council housing waiting list. Picture by Kate Shemilt.

RETIRED Valerie Brind said she is to be made homeless after Chichester District Council has changed its social housing criteria.

Ms Brind, 65, has lived at Lakeside Caravan Park in North Mundham for more than 12 years, and has been on the council’s housing list for around five.

After a recent split with her former partner, she is moving out of the log cabin they shared at the site, but the district council says she is no longer eligible for a council home.

This is because the council changed the criteria in July, which said applicants must have lived in the district for more than two years.

However, living at a caravan site does not count as a permanent residence, so despite the fact Ms Brind has lived there for 12 years, 50 weeks a year, it is not taken into account.

What’s more, Ms Brind is struggling to find a home to rent privately, as she has two dogs and has a reduced income now she is retired.

“What am I to do, where do I go?” she asked. “When I went to the council, they said I could not afford to live in Chichester, why don’t I move to Portsmouth or Havant as it’s cheaper.”

But she said her son and daughter lived in Chichester with their children, so she didn’t want to move out of the area.

“My family moved to be with me, so as I get old they can look after me,” she said. “It is just an absolute nightmare. I’ve paid all my taxes all my life. I worked at St Richard’s for seven-and-a-half years.”

Her daughter Yvette, 24, said: “She was on the list all the while she was working. The only reason she is not working is that she’s retired and now they have chucked her off the list. She is going to end up sleeping on my sofa. She’s 65 years old.”

A Chichester District Council spokeswoman said: “When someone approaches us to ask for housing advice, we work with the individual to explore all options available to them to try to identify a positive outcome.

“This includes exploring private rental if they have sufficient equity in their current home, social housing and supported accommodation options where appropriate.

“In July 2013 we introduced new and more robust rules as to who is entitled to join or remain on our housing register. Applicants have to prove they have a local connection. A key part of this is a new two-year permanent, main residency requirement. We do not exclude people from our housing register due to their age.

“If someone is unhappy with the outcome of their housing application, they can request a review.”

 

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